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How important is learning with paper books?

The new virtual education raises some questions regarding study techniques. Are notes on physical paper irreplaceable? .

Woman sitting reading a book

Virtual education can be counterproductive for learning processes. / Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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COVID-19 generated changes in education. The OK Diario website highlights that online education was promoted, with new training methods. Among them, the use of digitized notes, which are posted online, stands out. Therefore, students can study from there, without having to resort to sheets of paper.

Despite the changes implemented, not all students are in favor of the new modality. For example, the El Ancasti website reported that 52% of students seem not to participate in virtual education, something that could come hand in hand with a lack of understanding or concentration to understand the course texts.

That is, the fact that the notes are presented directly from the computer, at a time when the screens are dominating us, could be difficult for the teaching process. Let's see, then, why it would be important to be able to keep written texts to improve learning.

Can the notes on paper be replaced?

To understand this phenomenon, we must analyze it from a contextual perspective. For example, the newspaper El Día comments that, due to the coronavirus and virtual education, more and more cases of visual fatigue are being detected. Having to focus all our attention on our screens can be counterproductive.

In other words, we not only connect virtually with our friends, we must make video calls for work or education, but we also have to learn and read from the computer. Despite the fact that these notes can be downloaded and kept on paper, many students prefer -or directly do not have the possibility- to print them. How much does studying from the screen change?

From The New York Times they make a call so that, for the common good, we continue to privilege the reading of physical books. Despite the fact that the large technological platforms provide us with a lot of content so that we can enjoy immediately, there are properties that seem to be kept in the paper format.

It turns out that the "magic" of a traditional book cannot be replaced by a virtual one. They think the same in the Hoy medium, when they say that smell, touch and even antiquity generate different sensations that cannot be transferred to a screen. In addition, as we spend more and more time on screens, we run the risk that it seems “more of the same” to us.

The fact of having to open the book, sit down to read and put our mind in a state of concentration, makes us more likely to incorporate knowledge or venture into words. This not only applies to the study itself, but also to simple reading.

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At ComputerHoy they investigate a little more about this concept, saying that, although both formats will continue to coexist, there is an “emotional factor” in paper format that is associated with texture, smell and even the possibility of collecting it that makes us predispose better at reading.

This is when, precisely, the "traditional" study techniques do not necessarily conform to the virtual modality. One of the best known, according to Taller Educa, is underlining, which allows an understanding of concepts, highlighting what is important for later rereading. You can even make a lot of side notes.

While PDF files can be underlined and even annotated, it doesn't seem as practical as doing it "live", with a highlighter, for example. At least in this context, institutions that dedicate themselves exclusively to the virtual will not necessarily be able to maintain physical notes, although they could recommend maintaining that study technique, to avoid visual fatigue and combine virtuality with traditional strategies.