Digital vs. Traditional Education

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Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a significant shift in the way we learn. Instead of encyclopedias we use wikis. Where we once had books, we have PDFs, mp3s and eBooks. Rather than go to the library, we go online. And in many cases, in the place of the classroom we have forums and chat rooms. With the digital movement, traditional learning is in question and the whole system is a bit off balance.

Craig Mod said it well:

Print is dying. Digital is surging. Everyone is confused.

His recent article “Books in the Age of the iPad” touches on a valid point about books that I think rings true for all the traditional learning we see moving in a digital direction.

As the publishing industry wobbles and Kindle sales jump, book romanticists cry themselves to sleep. But really, what are we shedding tears over?

We’re losing the throwaway paperback.
The airport paperback.
The beachside paperback.

We’re losing the dregs of the publishing world: disposable books. The book printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity. The book produced to be consumed once and then tossed. The book you bin when you’re moving and you need to clean out the closet.

These are the first books to go. And I say it again, good riddance.

You’ll hear similar cries of woe in the newspaper, textbook and magazine industries. The move to digital has everyone in a panic, but the encouraging reality is this: There will never be a shortage of demand for relevant, interesting content.

For too long, the act of printing something in and of itself has been placed on too high a pedestal. The true value of an object lies in what it says, not its mere existence.

So what’s better about a “digital” education?

1. Fast. Searches on google and wikipedia are a way to instantly find answers to our questions. Results are dependable and stuffy libraries are no longer necessary for research papers.

2. Convenient. I can’t believe how easy it is to take notes, turn in assignments, read articles, ON MY PHONE. Using my computer makes it just as easy. And the best part is, with online learning, you can attend classes, watch lectures, participate in discussions or complete assignments on your schedule.

3. Interactive. Products and platforms like the iPad will be a big opportunity for educators to publish their ideas and communicate in a way that’s never been done before.

We’re going to see new forms of storytelling emerge from this canvas. This is an opportunity to redefine modes of conversation between reader and content.

4Don’t throw away all your books just yet! Check out what photographer Paul Octavius does with his books. You can’t do that with an iPad!

  • Sam

    Love this article!

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