ISU Study: Tablet Users Learn Just As Well As Print Readers

An Indiana State University study may back technologists' push to get more tablets and e-readers into classrooms.

iPad

Photo: Ronnie Pitman (Flickr)

If the study is heeded, more reading in classrooms may be done like this in the future.

Students reading digital or print textbooks test equally well, a report from Indiana State University finds.

ISU instructional and information technology services director Jim Johnson tested 200 students’ reading comprehension after half of them read a chapter out off an iPad and the other half read a printed textbook.

“There’s no significant differences in scores, between digital and paper,” Johnson says. “There is also no significant differences between gender or, text preference, or format they were assigned. ”

Students also said they were worried digital textbooks cost more than printed copies, but  Indiana University’s Vice President for Information Technology Brad Wheeler, who developed IU’s eTexts Initiative, says  students actually save money when they buy digital textbooks.

“In this last semester, we had just over 10,000 students choosing a digital text books in250 course sections,” Wheeler says.  “We negotiated with the publishers in advance for those deals; we calculated well over $200,000 in savings relative to their alternatives.” 

Still, Johnson says some students in the ISU study said they were concerned about straining their eyes when reading electronic books. One participant even became so nauseous she had to drop out of the study.

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