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Paper vs. Online: A Tale as Old as 2007!

In this new age of technology, more people are relying on their computers, phones, and tablets. iPhones were invented in 2007, and you can see how far the world has gone from there. Incoming generations are going to be more dependent on technology for education than we are today. This makes people think: Does reading online vs. paper affect your learning?

There are multiple downsides to reading a textbook online. For example, you cannot highlight and annotate as well. Dean of Students and English 9 teacher Ms. Gordon claims that paper is “...a far friendlier medium for annotating than on a screen”. Studies show when people read on tablets or phones, they tend to get more distracted or drawn away from their original focus. You could possibly even be distracted right now while reading this article. When reading on paper, there is a better concentration level and people tend to comprehend the material more.

Ms. Gordon also brought up another very interesting point. She believes that since we associate screens with websites, games, and social media like Facebook, we tend to read faster. However, we tend to slow down when reading on paper.

Many studies have been done to see whether paper or electronic reading is more effective. Almost all of them state that reading on paper is more beneficial than reading online. Instead of describing tests online, I made my own test which I performed on two innocent sixth-graders.

I did this test to help discover whether studying online or on paper would be more beneficial. There is a children’s board game called Stare. Basically, you stare at a busy picture. You are only allowed to look at this picture for 30 seconds. After you finish looking, someone will ask you questions (which are on the back of the card). You get one point for each correct answer. I modified the game to collect accurate test results.

I had two sixth-graders stare at a picture for 30 seconds. Both sixth-graders were looking at the same picture. However, one girl was looking at the picture online while the other was looking at the picture digitally.

After getting the results from the questioning, the sixth-grader that looked at the picture on paper did 50% better than the sixth-grader looking at the picture online.

Similarly, English teacher Ms. Lee described that although she does not have enough data to scientifically prove an answer, she believes that students tend to recall information better when reading on paper.

This should make people think: Does reading online versus reading on paper affect my test results, my study skills, and reading comprehension in general?

There are easy ways a KPS student can modify the way that they study or read the physical copies of books. They could print out the textbook pages online, go to the US library, ask for a physical copy, or try other methods to help them study better. So maybe next time you should try to change up your study skills and see if you get better results.

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