The Battle Between Digital and Print

The textbooks vs. no-textbooks debate has been a “frequent flier” topic in my favorite online world language teacher communities (MoreTPRS, FLTEACH, #langchat). Most Comprehensible Input teachers tend to lean toward “no textbooks” (myself included), although many of us use non-traditional textbooks to some extent in our classrooms. (TPRS Publishing has some great ones!) Perhaps because of my anti-textbook stance, I have not spent much time considering the value of digital textbooks versus print textbooks. Textbook companies are developing more and more e-textbooks, and they are advertising them quite aggressively! You can find some killer deals on e-textbook series for your classroom. My thought has been that digital anything would be technological headache, but they would probably be cheaper!” Perhaps they would be good option for my classes since we don’t use textbooks, but the school should probably have some on hand, maybe? I don’t know. As I said, I hadn’t given it any thought, really.

With all that in mind, my interest in the topic was piqued when I received an email from Allison Moore asking me to look over her infographic, “Not so Fast, E-Textbooks: The Battle Between Digital and Print”, originally posted on I thought that it was quite a timely thing to consider, seeing as there are some new digital-based curriculums on the market in the TPRS world (Scott Benedict’s new Immediate Immersion Curriculum comes to mind!). I was not surprised that most students prefer to use or at least have access to a traditional textbook (I would place myself in that category), but I was surprised that e-textbooks save an average of just $1 per book over traditional textbooks. Have a looksie for yourself and let me know what you think–and then let me know what kinds of texts  you prefer to use with your students? Do you prefer something that comes with a student textbook or workbook (like the Cuéntame series), something that is primarily digital (like Immediate Immersion), or something less formal that uses student worksheets (like most of my units)? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Check out the infograph here.

One comment

  1. I think it’s hard to compare middle/high school kids and college kids with textbooks. I now just leave the textbooks in a pile in the corner of my classroom and students don’t seem to mind at all. A few times I’ve asked them if they’d like to have a copy and only 2 of my 41 students this semester asked to take one home. Since they don’t have to pay for the book (usually) it’s not a barrier to learning. I think we also have the benefit of so much more class time that it’s less necessary to assign reading outside class to learn material. Really, I think that few high schoolers would actually do that.

    For me, the textbook industry is another shameless money grabber in education and I’m happy to unsupport them whenever I can. Also, after my husband finally entering the 1 in 6 with an e-reader category, it drives me nuts that he pays so much for the book that doesn’t exist! If we’re spending money I’d at least like to have something – though his ebooks will be easier to move next time.


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