Increasingly, students who have met all the requirements for graduation from high school or who have earned their GED find themselves unprepared for even basic level college classes - even courses that should be a simple step up from their public school curricula.
Many are forced to enroll in remedial classes, while others simply perform poorly, limiting their opportunities for getting post-graduate appointments or landing the best jobs following school.
The education system has two distinct options: to improve the quality and scope of education in high schools and primary systems, or to lower the standards in the universities. The latter is unacceptable, so forward thinking educators lean on technology to accomplish the former.
Competition for well-educated graduates is increasing every day.
As the industrialized world is constantly striving to lower costs, a more intelligent labor force is more efficient than is a force of poorly trained and educated workers. As education standards began faltering in the West, students in India and China were increasingly sought-after to fill positions that required the best-educated candidates. The US, highly aware of the shortcomings of the domestic system, developed the Common Core program to improve the quality of education. In addition to that program, which will go fully into effect this year, the US, along with other developed countries, has found itself increasingly committed to finding new ways – both administrative and technological – to improve the quality of its educational system.
Digital instructions are more engaging to today’s students
Over the course of the last couple of generations, the forums in which our children develop have changed dramatically. Fewer children find books appealing today, primarily because they have grown accustomed to getting their information (and stimulation) from tech-based sources, such as television, video games, and personal electronic devices.
According to a 2012 UK study of young people by the National Literary Trust, the number of children who read books not required in their schooling has dropped a full 25% during the last decade, with only about 25% of children choosing to read of their own accord. According to Trust Director Jonathan Douglas, this represents “a significant social and cultural trend which needs to be addressed.” But where the trust stresses that greater impetus needs to be put upon encouraging children to read books, it is arguably more realistic to provide literature in a format which readily appeals to children. The format for the future is electronic, in the form of e-readers, tablets, and even video presentations - all of which present information in a more dynamic form than is possible with printed text.
Furthermore, a lightweight e-reader, capable of storing hundreds of books, is much easier for a student to manage than a stack of textbooks, which only serves to add to technology's appeal.
Budget constraints encourage the use of e-textbooks
Due to lingering global economic difficulties, academic institutions and parents of school-age children are facing more stringent budget constraints than they have encountered previously. One area which is ripe for cost cutting is among the textbooks we use to teach our children. Whereas printed books must be printed, bound, packaged, shipped, stored, distributed, and replaced when they are worn, increasingly popular e-books incur virtually none of these costs. By purchasing licenses only for students who actually use the books, a single download can serve an entire student body, with the only cost being the license itself. And while readers are currently more expensive than paper books, prices for the technology continue to decline.
Digitized texts and study materials can be more up to date than print versions
Schools are faced with the need to replace outdated textbooks on a yearly basis, with some editions becoming obsolete even before they reach the students’ hands. And with each revision, there is the cost of producing, shipping, storing, and issuing the full revised version. With digitized study materials, any revisions that are required can be implemented at little cost, and the revised version downloaded to each reader almost instantaneously. The cost savings are astronomical, and students always have available the most current information possible.
Publishers are already on the digital bandwagon
If one doubts that digitized material has found its place in the literary marketplace, even a casual perusal of online booksellers will show that the digitization of literature is well under way. Titles for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers are increasingly offered in both print and digital formats and readership of e-books has continued to rise. According to Bowker Market Research, as reported by Publishers Weekly last September, e-books accounted for a full 14% of all consumer spending on books in the first half of 2013, and while the pace of increase as a percentage of total book sales has slowed somewhat, it still continues to rise.
Just as some scoffed at the notion that horseless carriages could eventually replace the horse and buggy, traditionalists proclaim that digitized books will never be a significant factor in literary and educational circles. And just as happened over a hundred years ago, the nay-sayers are being proved wrong.
There will always be printed books – just as there are still many horses – but they may ultimately be relegated to areas where their unique aesthetic appeal and functionality are best realized. In education, digitized versions will continue to find their proper place, aiding a new paradigm that uses technology to bring knowledge to students in formats they relate to.