Could shifting from print to online learning be harming the education of the world’s students?
As the developed world emerges from the pandemic and regains some sense of normality, the world of education is moving back to its previous ways of working. In the UK, younger children have been back at school for a while, their teachers working hard to help them catch up on in-person learning. But many universities and further education colleges still have strict rules in place over tuition, with many continuing online lectures.
As well as having to watch and listen to lectures on a small screen, more and more students have had to transition to digital textbooks and multimedia content to learn their subjects. This throws up the question of whether their education is affected by learning from a screen rather than print books.
“I have been studying how electronic communication compares to traditional print when it comes to learning,” says Naomi Baron, Professor of Linguistics Emerita at American University in Washington DC. “Is comprehension the same whether a person reads a text onscreen or on paper? And is listening and viewing content as effective as reading the written word when covering the same material? The answers to both questions are often ‘No’.”