The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
12 Points

Tablets should replace textbooks

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/14/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,006 times Debate No: 63254
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




I will be arguing that tablet devices should be replacing textbooks within school systems.

The first round is the round of acceptance.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


Tablets should replace textbooks for many of reasons. One of the main reasons is because almost everything in today's society revolves around technology. Moving material from print on paper, to a .pdf file seems like a smarter choice with the way technology advances. We continue to progress and advance in technology, we also continue to obtain new information about other things around us. With a tablet not only do we help the students, we also help the environment.

Now for the factional information:

The average tablet consist of storage space between 8 gigabytes to 64 gigabytes. If a student gets an 8 gigabyte tablet they have 6 gigabytes for user content. This gives the student the ability to hold 80 applications, leaving additional space for at least 10 movies, or 800 songs, or 6,000 books. ( So when the devices is finally set up the student should have his or her texts books for each class, and have plenty of space left over for notes, and anything else the school permits them to have on their devices. You've also eliminated the amount of textbooks and paper work needed to be printed off for the school. Plus E-textbooks on tablets cost 50% to 60% less than the average textbook (

Tablets also help students learn more information in a shorter amount of time. Not only is it helping the student prepare for a world surrounded by technology but it is teaching students to use their most efficient source of information According to the US Department of Education and studies by the National Training and Simulation Association students who have technology-based information learn the information given anywhere from 30% to 80% faster than average (

You can now take the floor. :P


Tablets and eReaders are useful learning augmentation tools, but their use does not supersede textbooks.

Thanks to my opponent for initiating the debate. I will first provide some general scope for the debate. I will then rebut my opponent's contentions, before demonstrating conclusively that digital tablet devices should not replace textbooks.


The world is becoming more digitised, and this is a phenomenon we should embrace. My opponent has provided the most common of the arguments put forward by those who feel that the replacement of textbooks is warranted, for example, environmental concerns, storage capacity and the speed of learning.

In my view, as will be demonstrated, none of these are sufficient to warrant the replacement of textbooks, and the arguments are disingenuous and do not represent the facts. Further, my opponent has presented a false dichotomy: the employment of tablets does not necessitate the removal of textbooks.


Environmental concerns
Despite claims that the reduction in paper consumption means that tablets are better for the environment being highly prolific, they are entirely false. Tablets are far worse for the environment than textbooks(1).

- Trees are renewable and the vast majority of mainstream textbooks are produced from sustainable forest paper
- The gargantuan surge in demand for tablets (iPads, Kindles and other eReaders being the worst offenders) has lead to the overfilling of landfills, requiring more to be built.
- In the US, these products represent a meager 4% of solid waste...but this translates into 70% of the nation's toxic waste(1).
- They are made almost entirely out of non-renewable, toxic resources, such as cadmium, mercury and lithium.

An independent media organisation determined that books are, by an absolute mile, far better for the environment than eReaders and tablets(2).

For further reference, this site aggregates a plethora of detailed information which has examined the pros and cons of both printed books and tablets, all of which determine that books are far superior on scores of environmental management(3).

Storage Capacity
In a cruel twist of fate, it is in fact the storage capacity that is one of the biggest downfalls. All that capacity provides space for games, and invariably kids will end up on Facebook and YouTube. This is not an issue with textbooks. While schools have the option of putting filters, firewalls and browsing restrictions on the tablets, kids will invariably trick every successive patch with third-party software and proxy servers - I certainly did it!

Speed of learning
This is a very interesting topic, and one which I will address strongly in my arguments, so to save from repeating myself, I'll address this below instead of here.

Arguments against

The following will constitute my argumentation phase for this round:

1. Reduction in memory retention due to oversaturation of data.
2. Breadth of knowledge without depth of knowledge - more information, less understanding.
3. Decreased ability to perform serial searching; increased dependence on parallel searching
4. Effects of excessive artificial backlight/screen exposure on sleep (especially in children).
5. Writing notes down by hand from textbooks leads to better memory retention than typing digital notes.
6. Fewer distractions.

1. Due to technology, our memory is deteriorating(4). This is due to increasing dependence on the ability to look up data at any time; an inherent product of this is this subconscious interruption of thoughts: "Why should I remember when Australia was settled, if I can just Google it when I need to know it?" The result is poorer memory retention. Quick and easy access to information is making our learning and memory worse, not better(5).

2. Linking into the above contention, reduced working memory capacity and reliance on technology is meaning that we learn things across 5 in %ad range of topics; however, we do not learn things deeply. This results in a lack of fundamental understanding and a prevalence of cursory, superficial knowledge. Technology is causing our thinking to become scattered and disorganised(6).

3. Parallel and serial searches are two components of attention(7). Parallel searches occur when an item 'pops out' and requires little effort to find in a group. In this case, the items are maximally different. In a serial search, most of the items have to be looked through, until you find the item you're looking for (find the letter 'O': 00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000o0000000000000000000000000000000 - in this instance, it doesn't 'pop', so you only stop searching through the items0An independ07%you find the item you're looking for). For example of parallel searches (that do just 'pop out' to varying degrees - note that the bottom panel is contentious and the resolution makes it more difficult than it otherwise would be):

Given the CTRL + F function (or analogous device-specific control) available on technology, our ability to perform attention-captive searches has been depleted. Searching for items actually helps us to remember information (you're more likely to remember a word that you look up in the dictionary rather than when you ask someone what it means) because concept-association.
When looking up information in a book, all of these attention-specific and memory-priming functions are preserved.

4. Artificial light is causing sleep disorders, and this is especially prevalent with tablets(8). Further, it has been demonstrated to be even more dangerous in children. Do we really need to be adding even more screen time for kids? They're already getting large doses at home and they're also getting smartphones younger and younger. Textbooks are a good way of ensuring a certain amount of no-screen time during the day.

5. Writing things down by hand, instead of note-taking on tablets, leads to better memory retention(9). This means smarter kids! This is obviously the most important outcome.

6. While you're reading a textbook, there's no way to check out the latest pin-up girl, browse Facebook or watch cat videos. All of these things are great to do, but not while you're trying to study! Having textbooks and some blank sheets of paper leads to focused, attentive learning. Noting down the things you can't find the answers to then continuing with your work and looking them up later is the most productive way of learning. Otherwise you stop to Google something every five seconds and never get any work done.

Summarily, eTextbooks can be a useful additional learning tool. However, they should not replace textbooks. Textbooks are better for the environment, are better for our brains and memory, are better for children's sleep patterns and are less distracting. In addition, of people who had used both books and eBooks in the past 12-months, 81% of respondents said reading to a child from a paper book was a superior experience when compared with digital readers and tablets(10). The same site finds many pros for eBooks; however, on balance, it finds that the cons outweigh the pros, and that textbooks are superior.

Textbooks should NOT be replaced entirely by eBooks.
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Debate Round No. 2


timlopez1331 forfeited this round.


My opponent hasn't posted an argument, so I'll I'll throw down some quick additional points without too much formality. Hopefully my opponent will return for their next round.


- Textbooks don't require batteries, a Wi-Fi connection, or special storage conditions other than 'not wet'. This makes them more durable in terms of use. People in remote areas without power or internet deserve the ability to learn and have access to information.

- This characteristic also makes textbooks better for long-term storage. The rapidly escalating obsolescence of technology means that attempting to store data long-term requires regular upgrades and maintenance. In the case of servers, it is also expensive and requires cooling towers, full-time staff and infrastructure. Books don't have this problem. We have found books throughout history that haven't been cared for, and do not require firmware updates or attempts to backwards-build the technology used to make them in order to gain access. Although archives do typically use filtered air and have numbered shelves, this and the staff are pretty much the extent of the costs involved.

- Provided they are secured in a bomb-proof shelter, books are invulnerable to attack; no technological/cyber warfare can shut them down. They can't be hacked. And if you give one to every person or airdrop them in, then they're untraceable.

- Great for zombie apocalypses.

- Smell delicious.
Debate Round No. 3


timlopez1331 forfeited this round.


Arguments extended. My opponent concedes that textbooks should not be replaced by tablets.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Commondebator 3 years ago
Sorry about my vote! Ill change it
Posted by InnovativeEphemera 3 years ago
My opponent concedes that tablets should not replace textbooks.
Posted by andysixx 3 years ago
my school is slowly starting to replace textbook with tablets
Posted by Dheu 3 years ago
My high-school is receiving tablets to give to all students my senior year. I'm on the side that tablets should be used in school, as books are being obsolete.

Technology is our future.
Posted by Azone 3 years ago
I do agree.....instead of carrying heavy bag fillled with books it is good to have just onething in our hand......pur technology has advanced a lot that ..... we can even create a table in which electric circuit can be made to avoid losss of battery...........our technology is changing day by day so we do have to change something
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Commondebator 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: FF, and con gave more convincing arguments, along with more sources
Vote Placed by QTAY21 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: It's really sad when one starts a debate and just gives up. Need I explain why?
Vote Placed by lannan13 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture