• GUEST BLOG: Hitting the digitised textbooks for the 21st century

    960 640 Stuart O'Brien

    Gary Bryant from ITSI discusses the traditional textbook, the challenges of 21st Century teaching and how technology can be used to enhance the learning experience…

    The textbook has always been an element of UK education. But in recent years, it has fallen somewhat out of favour and is often regarded as an outdated mode of learning.

    For example, research has shown that 63 per cent of primary and secondary schools in England could make more use of textbooks. In his address to the annual conference for the Publishers Association and British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), Nick Gibb MP, made the point that the use of textbooks is considered a lazy mode of teaching, an assumption that must be challenged.

    In reality, textbooks are one of the most comprehensive resources available to teachers and students: all the information needed for a course, brought together in a single place. However, in the digital age, we can enhance these materials further to create an even more immersive experience of the subject.

    In addition to this, we’re all using technology more and more in our daily lives, and with many future jobs likely to involve digital skills of some form or another, ensuring that students can use technology well is essential. Undoubtedly, schools are increasingly embracing the use of technology in the classroom, but who’s to say we can’t make the best of both worlds?

    Digitised textbooks offer a highly-effective way to enrich learning. Students can access a whole library of high-quality education materials from publishers, enabling them to research a topic and develop their knowledge in more depth. Not only this, but the content can be enhanced through other digital and online content, such as links to articles, images or videos that relate to the topic, adding contextual material to improve understanding and increase engagement.

    Another benefit to this practice is in note-taking. Traditionally, notes would be kept separately in exercise books, often leading to them being disconnected from the original text, not to mention the potential for them to be lost or damaged.

    By using tablet or laptop technology, these notes can be collated in one place alongside the textbook, allowing students to view notes and supporting material in a way that’s manageable and, most importantly, enabling them to learn efficiently. Teachers are also able to create assessments for students and send these to their textbooks in order to support learning.

    In the past, the textbook has been perceived as a static, outdated relic from a bygone era. But with the advancements in technology, the textbook is now able to connect learning strategies unlike ever before.

    They enable students to manage their learning efficiently, with their annotations, additional documents and assessments in once place, as well as the potential to access a wealth of engaging learning material further to this.

    Textbooks will always have a place in learning; they provide a wealth of specialised, subject and age-specific information in an accessible way.

    However, by bringing them into the digital age, we can give both teachers and students the power to really revolutionise the learning experience.


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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