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Paper is still number one in education


July, 2017
G. Wilkins
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Classrooms still largely use paper

Paper is still a huge player in classrooms

Source: Christopher Sessums via flickr

Paper takes hands on learning literally

Paper takes “hands-on” learning literally.

Source: Mosborne01 via Wikipedia Commons

Recent years have proven that the world is moving in a very electronic and technology focused direction. The common view is that such technology improves our lives and expands upon what we are able to do. That is true, but not universally.

At first glance, one might think that modern society values touch screens and WiFi over good ol’ pen and paper, but participants in one particular industry seem to value it very highly: Education.

The Paper and Packaging board recently contracted global market research firm Ipsos to conduct a survey of more than 1400 students and parents in the United States. The report from that survey shows that 79% of those surveyed believe that paper and packaging are relevant in their lives.

The report goes on to say that while 72.4% of parents see their child lose focus while doing homework on a computer or tablet, 94.8% of them do well on homework they complete using paper, and 88% of them say their kids remember their assignments better when they write them down on paper.

The middle and high school students surveyed also reported high use of paper themselves, most electing to take handwritten notes and use handwritten worksheets, flashcards, and study guides. Though only 50.3% of college students believed they learn better when writing things down by hand, 93% agreed that paper is an important part of their educational goals, and 81% frequently use paper to prepare for exams.

There has long been debate about whether e-books such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook are better or worse than traditional books. Ultimately it comes down to consumer preference, but the survey also addressed this question. Here, it cites a study done by Dr. Naomi Baron, a seemingly well-decorated researcher and linguistics professor from the American College of Arts and Sciences, in which 94 percent of those who participated agreed that paper was the best medium for them to concentrate on. Screen-based media offered too many temptations and opportunities for distraction.

Humans are very tactile learners. Though there are different ways to educate ourselves, we all learn the most from experiences. When we write things on paper, when we touch and feel what we’re learning even in such a minor way, we spend more time, more focus, and our minds are more likely to commit them to memory. Paper allows us the freedom to write, draw, or fold as we want without the organizational limitations of a word processor. Despite the prominence of technology, paper is still the most-used and most effective tool for learning.

  1. http://www.howlifeunfolds.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Back_To_School_Annual_Report_Online_FINAL.pdf
  2. http://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/nbaron.cfm


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