Learning: paper or digital

Best of both worlds// Working with paper and working with technology both have their advantages and disadvantages. Every student is different. (Photo by Madison Kitch)

Pro-Paper Learning

By Madison Kitch

In an era of political uncertainty and worldwide tumult over the Covid-19 pandemic, school may not be a priority for many students right now. However, with the ever-changing ways we learn, it should be. The Clark-County School District was adding technology into classrooms little by little before Covid, but digital learning has spread wildly over the last school year, and the playing field has changed. Students must now have a computer with them every school day, and many classes depend on them for learning. 

However, this “learning” isn‘t necessarily the best for students. When surveyed, nearly 92% of college students said they prefer print over digital when reading. However, one of the leading collegiate textbook brands, Pearson, has stated that they are making the move towards fully digital textbooks. They’ll still have print versions of books available, but students will be encouraged to rent online rather than buy. Pearson says a big reason for this is the cost printing– and I’m sure it is– but they’re charging enough for their textbooks already. This shows a disconnect between company and consumer, and Pearson is just one unlucky example. 

Another reason why print is better than digital learning can be found in test scores. Our nation’s future leaders are being shortchanged at the price of a piece of paper. One study, done across 31 nations, found that students who spent more time online did worse when it came to their grades. This isn’t a reason to blame the computer for a bad grade that’s really there due to laziness, but it is an interesting statistic.

Not only does digital learning affect test scores, but it can also have a less-than-preferred effect on eyesight. Reading on a screen makes our eyes work harder, and eye strain is no joke. Looking at a screen for a prolonged period of time can also cause dry eyes because we don’t blink as much. This issue is somewhat combated with textbooks because they don’t have screens. E-readers use software that makes the online book pages mimic a real book with colors. Even still, with online assignments, there’s no saving grace there.

With the rise of social media and 7-second TikTok videos, many students’ attention spans have been severely shortened. This is not helped by digital learning. A student could be doing an online assignment for one class and see an email pop up in another tab, and suddenly their fierce concentration for English is gone. Some may argue that this could also happen with a piece of paper, and that’s true, but it’s more likely to happen with an open screen.

Computers and online devices provide students with tons of opportunities, and the information they need is always right at their fingertips. However, this instant gratification and online learning don’t have the benefits we’ve been taught they do. Study hard and on paper.



Pro-Digital Learning

By Oliver Van Aken

2019 will be remembered as the last “normal” year of life, and especially the last year of “normal” schooling. Pen-to-paper was slowly being phased out of schools by digital implementations such as Google Classroom and Turnitin, but it was completely eradicated by the need for social distancing and online schooling during the pandemic. However, the ease of remaining within an online learning management system, such as Canvas, has made the return to an in-person 2021-2022 school year beneficial for students and teachers.

Remember that one classmate who would have one hundred papers explode out of their backpack? Or maybe you were that student? I’m sure most fell victim to unorganization while teachers were throwing at us more papers than our folders, binders, and backpacks could carry. However, now assignments and tests are organized for students under the “Modules” or “Assignments” tab because that’s the most common way teachers can enter them into Canvas.

Students are also given the benefit of late due dates, with most assignments being due at 11:59 p.m., and are given the advantage of being able to complete them outside of school because of the accessibility Canvas entails. Your classmates may complain that systems like Canvas or Turnitin are redundant and complicate the learning process, but when looking from an outside perspective, current students are given so many luxuries previous classes never had.

The digital learning implementations have also affected teachers, who were forced to learn, adapt, and comply with the introduction of foreign technology (to them) in the classroom. However, once they became comfortable and aware of the new learning systems they found it to be beneficial. For one, teachers could easily insert all their assignments and due dates into Canvas at the beginning of the year and watch them all open and update in real time with the press of a button. This makes it easier to manage their coursework and have more time available to focus on their students. 

Also, grading has become much easier for teachers, for some quizzes and multiple-choice assignments can be automatically graded. Although, other assignments such as essays still have to be consciously graded, all assignments can still be automatically imputed into the gradebook, Infinite Campus, via the passback mechanism. 

Overall, the transition from the papers and packets that once polluted schools was on its way to the recycling bin for years, but was ultimately thrown out by the pandemic. Society has finally understood the need and urgency for schooling to be accessible everywhere, and the only way that’s possible is via digitalization. It’s clear, students and teachers alike acknowledge and appreciate the other perks.




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