Does technology actually hinder learning? According to one private school in Australia, it does – and that’s why they’re turning back time, forgoing iPads, and returning to print textbooks.
Unsurprisingly, reactions to Reddam House Private School’s decision are mixed. On the one hand, digital devices like iPads provide access to all sorts of resources and tools. On the other hand, they can create unnecessary distractions too. So what does science say?
Why Textbooks are Better
While students understanding technology is important, especially in this day and age, it’s not always the best way to foster education. Researching, note taking, and writing can be easier with a textbook at the student’s side. Engagement, comprehension, and information retention too, studies show, goes up with paper textbooks versus digital devices. This may be due to students using more senses when reading through a textbook versus scrolling on an iPad.
Then, of course, there are all the drawbacks to iPads that we, as parents, hear all the time: digital devices deter physical activity, and the blue light can affect things like mood and sleep.
Why iPads are Better
Despite these drawbacks, there are clearly some benefits too. Technology can motivate students. It can also provide access to information, and foster independence. They also offer a different way for teachers to communicate with their students. And, heck, they’re a whole lot lighter than those expensive textbooks. 
And Why This Argument is Far From Over
That said, some argue that teachers don’t have nearly enough resources to make the most out of iPads in the classroom. At a time when many school budgets are already stretched to the max, there often aren’t enough funds to teach teachers all of the ways iPads could potentially foster learning.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to using digital devices for educational purposes, and the argument over what’s better is far from over.
Since electronic devices have only been in classrooms since around 2010, studies are limited in scope. Plus, no long-term studies have been completed… yet. But even if there were, there is something we can all agree on: everyone learns in different ways.
Some students may benefit more from printed textbooks, while others may learn better with technology. It depends on that material, the student, the teacher, and oh so much more. I think that’s something Reddam House Private School may agree with too; they may have taken iPads out, but they implemented a bring-your-own-device policy.
What do you think: should iPads be removed from the classroom? Sound off in the comments below.

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