The enduring power of print in a digital world

A study has shown that a preference for reading digitally may not mean better learning outcomes. Today’s students are digital natives; the first generation to grow up surrounded by technology, including in the classroom where they learn from school-issued iPads and e-textbooks.

Although students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens, their actual performance tended to suffer. In fact, the study found that students were able to better comprehend information in print, indicating the disruptive effect that scrolling has on comprehension.

In addition, the study found that for certain tasks, medium doesn’t seem to matter. However, when the reading assignment demands more engagement or deeper comprehension, students may be better off reading print. The study also highlighted that despite economic and environmental reasons to go paperless, the level of engagement a print text offers cannot be replicated with a digital text.

It looks like print is still here to stay. The saying “old is gold” certainly applies here. Furthermore, with recent studies indicating blue light from electronic devices is bad for the eyesight, print certainly has its benefits.

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