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Why Print is Still the Best Way to Learn

Hailed as the most important invention of the second millennium, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press revolutionized the way that people learned and shared information.

Known as letterpress printing it remained the main way to print for almost 600 years until the advent of off-set printing in the 20th century. Since then the world has seen the birth of many other types of printing, including ink-jet, laser and thermal printing, all enhancing the way we see words.

Then came the digital age and many wondered if that would spell the end of the printed word.
The Birth of the E-book

The world could now access information on their computers, laptops, and even their phones. Educational institutes, from colleges and universities to elementary schools, jumped on board exploring new ways to deploy information digitally.

Introducing the electronic book (e-book). Touted as a win win for students and educators, e-books could be updated quickly and easily as new information emerged. The cost of producing e-books was also lower saving students money and they wouldn’t have to carry heavy textbooks.

But then educators began to question the effectiveness of digital information and whether it translated into better learning outcomes. What they discovered was that print held the edge when it comes to education.

4 Reasons Print Tops Digital Learning

1. Better Comprehension

Numerous studies on students, from elementary school up to university, have time and again demonstrated that a person is more likely to understand information delivered in a printed medium versus digitally, due to the fact that digital reading requires scrolling and that disrupts the comprehension process. Furthermore, print readers also seem to be more immersed and therefore have a better grasp of context which scientists attribute to the tactile sensation of holding an actual book. Another interesting finding indicates that proofreaders catch more mistakes in print compared to on a screen.

2. Less Eye Strain

Anyone who has stared at a computer screen for hours on end for work, studying or just regular online browsing, knows full well of the possible consequences. Vision can become blurred and your eyes can get irritated forcing you to take frequent breaks which isn’t always ideal when studying for a big exam or if you’re in the middle of research for a major term paper. Printed books can eliminate eye strain allowing you to focus on the task at hand for longer periods of time. Plus, studies have also revealed that the blue light from a screen can toy with students’ melatonin levels making it harder for them to fall asleep after reading digital print and as a result, drowsy the next day in class.

3: No Distractions

According to other research, scientists have discovered that when students read online, they get more sidetracked compared to those reading a print book. On one hand having access to the internet while studying or doing research can be a good thing, but on the other hand it can also be a major distraction. It’s easy to be lured into clicking on link after link, many of which will have nothing to do with the student’s subject. In no time the student has lost focus, concentration and, in turn, comprehension of the material they were reading.

4: More Memorable and Satisfying Experience

The smell of a new or old book, the writing in the margins and even the simple act of turning pages and knowing how far you are in a book, are all important aspects of the reading experience. And while manufacturers of e-readers have tried to recreate some of those sensations, nothing beats the real thing. And now scientists are discovering that the 3-D nature of a book and its tactile traits helps readers remember more of the text they are reading – definitely a positive in institutes of higher learning.

Have Your Say

What is your own experience when it comes to retaining information via digital or printed media? Are you an educator or a parent that has discovered limitations with digital learning resources?

We encourage your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, and if you found this article helpful feel free to share to your networks.

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