The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Schools ought to replace textbooks with a digital medium.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/20/2009 Category: Education
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,707 times Debate No: 7490
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (0)




I will allow the negative to have the first say.


Thank you for providing me with such a vulnerable and painstakingly bias topic. My specialty.

Commence the deconstruction.

My opponent's argument is quite simple, he wants schools to replace textbook with a digital medium. This is wrong on multiple levels:

FIRST: "Schools" are inanimate. One cannot assign a moral, nor any other type of obligation to an inanimate object. For example, saying "my teddy bear ought to protect me" assumes the agent is a rational being, insofar as it is not, the statement does not make sense, hence invalid. This means that I have sufficiently invalidated the topic, thus you are to vote con.

SECOND: "Digital medium" has no concrete meaning until assigned. Therefore, due to my opponent's inability to clarify this term it is left in its ambiguous, nebulous nature. Hence, a digital medium could just a DVD. So, unless the student can afford a DVD player, less fortunate will continue to be unable to assume a proper education. Let's assume the school passes out free DVD players, the cost inefficiency will not make up for any benefits gained. Thus, you can negate on this level insofar as my opponent does not specify which types of digital mediums he can use.

THIRD: "Replace" implies permanent banning of the aforementioned necessity. What this argument is that his advocacy implies that we ought to not use textbooks and only use digital mediums. The bad effect of this is that we need a back up in the case of a malfunction on behalf of the digital device. Say perhaps the CD scratches; this is a common problem. Thus, you negate the topic to the extent that my opponent's advocacy is not desirable. <-- The third definition primarily.

FOURTH: "Digital medium"s are not as portably reliable. "Reliability", we all hated that word when we got our first car, but when we saw that hot pontiac stuck out on the side of the rode, we were proud of our Toyota Corolla. What I mean by this is that, unlike the digital medium, the book is not going to run out of battery, or have glitches. Thus, you are going to negate because I have proved it less reliable.

HENCE, you vote CON insofar as the PRO is advocating a less cost-efficient, reliable, and desirable device. Also, take into account the inherent problem within the topic that it is logically invalid. For these reasons I urge you to dismiss my opponent's advocacy. I also reserve my right to bring up new arguments in my next speech.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Protagoras (is back)
Debate Round No. 1


thank you for accepting so quickly.


1. Yes a school is an inanimate thing, but that doesnt mean it cant be obligated to do something. My car ought to run and my shoes ought to fit. They are not living, yet it is something that they should do. Just because the school cannot assume the role of a living thing does not mean you cannot specify what it should or should not do.

2. It is true that in the resolution there was no specific reference, but refering to the word "ought" in the resolution i do not have to bring specifics into the argument. Let us assume that for this instance "digital medium" refers to but is not limited to DVDs and PDF files. In order to defend this i mearly have to prove that it would be in the best interest of the school and those influenced by such establishment to make the switch.

3. The dispute over the word "replace" is not really needed. DVDs were made to "replace" the VHS, but that doesnt mean that you can use DVDs and only that. Many things are created with the intent to "replace" things but that does not mean you still cannot utilize the other (older) objects. CDs do infact scratch but do books not rip? I have come across pagesthat have been defaced, spines that have broken and other issues that occur with books but that doesnt mean we have to go back to story telling.

4. Oh reliability, how you and technology go hand in hand so well. For this point alone i would like to assume that the digital media is on a laptop strictly for example. Now the average laptop battery last about 5 hours, that quite a long time. Not to mention there are power outlets located all around most school for charging of such items. If these were not reliable why would they be so accepted into mainstream society? Saying that a computer is not reliable is a silly fact, because if people didnt find them to be so we would still be hand writting our thesis papers and drawing our magazine adds. Throughout time these machines have become increasingly reliable, seeing as how you are looking at this now and your computer has not crashed yet has to prove that your computer is reliable.

Now onto my own points

1 Ease of use
2 Cost effective

1. What is easier, looking for hundreds of pages to find a specific quote, of typing the portion of the quote you know into a search bar? Im sure everyone would agree that you will save time and energy by simply doing the computer search. What about viewing multiple pages that arent right next to eachother, you can do that without having to use multiple books if you were infact on a compter. There are obviously things you can do on a computer that you cannot physically do with a textbook, such as highlight specific portions, manipulate text and discover passages with ease. It is undeniable that a digital book is much simpler and lighter then a full sized text book. If the type on the page is too small on paper you have to hurt your eyes squinting, but on the computer it is a thing of the past when you can simply enlarge text files to suit your needs.

2 On to the cost of such a system, yes initially it may seem a bit pricey, but how much did your school pay initially for the textbooks it has? At an average of $50 per book the cost seems to add up quite quickly. You have to replace a textbook every, say, five years because students do not take care of such things. They get misplace, ripped, torn, thrown, burnt drawn on and the list goes on. Its obvious that if you were given a computer you would not harm it because it is important, useful and just cool to have. The odds of misplacing it rather then a book would be like comparing misplacing a skateboard over misplacing your car, its something that is extremely unlikely to happen. Its common sense that if you give a person nice, they will make an attempt to take care of it. As well as that my opponent argues that you will have to spend money on such technology ( ie digital books) but that isnt the case. Currently all books supplied by my school come with a disc, on that disc is a virtual copy of the book. In cases like this it becomes an effective solution because you no longer have to pay just to have a digital copy of such thing.

I look foward to new point from my opponent rather than attacks on the resolution itself, thank you.


I will answer each point breifly, then continue to refute the points my opponent has brought upon me.

FIRST: This is fine, let us assume schools have certain obligations.

SECOND: I agree with my opponent once more; he must now prove that DVDs, PDFs etc. have unique benefits that outweigh textbooks. However, my opponent DOES NOT assert the problem that arises when the students simply cannot afford a laptop. In the status quo, a laptop is viewed as a luxury item for teens, most parent would be upset if it suddenly became a requirement for them to fetch out $400-2000 on a school laptop. <--- Cheap laptops; but not necc. the most reliable. <--- the average laptop is $1000

THIRD: Replace doesn't matter.

FOURTH: This is where we continue to disagree. My argument is simple. CDs and laptops eventually run out of battery and die. They are more prone to scratches and other defects that do not/can not occur in a textbook. Sure, a textbook may have ripped pages, or may be defaced; this only means that "schools ought to issue legible textbooks", not replace them with cost-ineffective, unreliable digital mediums.

I'd like to offer a FIFTH point: Distractions.

Laptops are extremely dangerous. When I open my laptop for studies, I generally fall straight onto facebook, myspace or other social networking sites. We know that teens are addicted to these sites however when we give them a laptop with internet access, they are susceptible to viewing these sites and not doing homework. My opponent may respond by saying the internet CAN be blocked or etc. but this is outside the scope of the topic. He cannot fiat that in EVERY instance, or even MOST instances this will occur. So we must take this into account as a disadvantage.


My opponent's points:

FIRST: Certainly I cannot deny the ease of use when compared to a textbook, however this does not outweigh how unjust it would be for a low-wage student to be forced to purchase a laptop, or be responsible for a rented laptop that his family cannot afford. The "ease of use" argument is further outweighed by the fact that distractions are inevitable. Just as "easy" as it is the copy and paste a sentence; the student can log onto his Myspace account and not even get to his actual assignment. We have had textbooks since schools were first created, it is certainly not that much of a hassle to continue its usage. The costs outweigh this benefit.

SECOND: Here my opponent asssumes a few things:

1) The student will not harm a laptop
2) The student would not misplace it.
3) If you give a person something nice they will attempt to take care of it.

He precedes each of these statements with remarks like, "it is obvious that..." "its common sense that..." etc. However, these statement are intentionally misconceiving. Allow me to show you how these statements are invalid:

FIRST: "The student will not harm a laptop"

My opponent does this as a comparaison. However, it is highly unlikely that a students would regard their laptop like its gold. Laptops break all the time, this is an undeniable fact (check the link) ALL laptops break eventually, and we cannot assume that a teenager has the ability to keep them in perfect condition for a year.

My opponent continues by saying after 5 years a textbook is ruined. Sure. Let us assume that this is true, we can purchase another textbook for $50, however laptops only last three to five years according to Senior editor Matt Elliot. And I ensure you it will cost more than $50 to replace that laptop.

SECOND: "The student won't misplace it."

Essentially, insofar as the first point has been taken out respectively; this point doesn't matter. But, to entertain the point:

We have ALL lost something valuable unintentionally. I, personally, have lost a laptop on my shuttle at a local airport. And I have a friend that lost her backpack while camping last weekend. We all lose things, my opponent cannot fiat otherwise.

THIRD: "If you give a person something nice they will attempt to take care of it."

Have you ever given a teen something? If you have you know that this point is blatantly incorrect. If you haven't allow my these videos to explain:

<--- I know, he's a baby, but still, you get the point.
<--- These are teens.

I think this wraps things up. In summary, I have proved that the laptop alternative is distracting, dangerous, economically unfair, and economically undisireable. I have also shown you that my opponent's advocacy is either outweighed, or untrue. For these reasons it would be logical to vote in my favor, CON.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Protagoras (is back)
Debate Round No. 2


MitchellDeYoung forfeited this round.


Protagoras forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MitchellDeYoung 7 years ago
just curious, do you have a link stating that laptops last 3-5 years rather than just the

my Powerbook G3 was made in 99 and its still going strong.
Posted by s0m31john 7 years ago
I don't think computers are considered a luxury any more. You can get a new Dell for under $400. If you want a decent education in today's world you are going to need to get one. They should be on the school supply list along with things like a back pack and pencils.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
In Britain and Ireland they still run on windows 95.
Posted by MitchellDeYoung 7 years ago
librarys have computers. library cards are free.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
What about homework? It's okay for the namby-pamby, la-di-da posh kids with their own computers in their bedrooms, but what about the poor kids whose parents can't afford to buy computers for their pampered little darlings?
Posted by Epicism 7 years ago
Lol I'm imagining computers in every class, and all your work/ textbooks are on flashdrives, a separate drive for each class... Less space and no need for lockers ;) but for some reason I hate the idea.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
I believe schools should do this for many reasons but I don't believe the government should mandate it. Such a mandate could possibly double the cost of technological materials.
Posted by MitchellDeYoung 7 years ago
who made blind people anyway? i hope none of them read this, oh wait...
Posted by DiablosChaosBroker 7 years ago
Hey, MitchellDeYoung, challenge me to a debate to this when you have time.
Posted by s0m31john 7 years ago
Blind people don't need to learn, they're blind.
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