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RIP textbooks: The stats

By Tom O'Donahoo on 21 February 2016InnovationNSWstaffroomUKstaffroom

In 1908, Henry Ford almost single handedly killed the horse and carriage industry. At the time, this was considered a fairly radical changing of the guard. However, with the benefit of hindsight - it was also a pretty substantial leap forward. In light of recent stats, the time has come to acknowledge our own changing of the guard and say a heartfelt goodbye to the horse and carriage of our industry: the textbook.

Although our trusty steed was once a potent tool for powering individual learning, it's been left in the dust by it's new digital rivals. Not only do electronic, animated and engaging web-based learning methods bring schools up to date with the rest of the world, but they have proven benefits to the learning process when compared with static, text-book style methods.

Let’s take a peek at some seriously impressive stats gathered by the legends at the University of California, Riverside:

  • Participants (undergraduates from the University) improved test scores 16% when assigned interactive web-based content, over static content (aka textbooks), even when the textbooks were online (aka e-books).

Graph showing static vs interactive content engagement

Figure 1: Participants with interactive web-native content had a 16% higher improvement score than the static web content.

  • This massive improvement was even more noticeable in the lower-quartile of participants. Here, improvement was recorded at a whopping 64% when using interactive learning tools. The authors attest this to the self-reported ‘higher engagement levels.’

  • Participants in the study spent nearly double the time engaging with the interactive content than the static content: a ratio of 17.5 minutes to 9.4 minutes of engagement on average.

Graph of average engagement time

Figure 2: Participants engage with interactive content nearly double the time of static content.

  • When comparing post-lesson quiz marks, students using interactive web learning scored an average of 8.6 out of 11, while students using static textbook content scored 7.3 on average. Winning.

So what does that have to do with the price of eggs in china?

Students, particularly those at the lower end of the spectrum, had a statistically significant and positive academic response to content delivery that was more engaging and interactive. This means that if you haven't had the chance to already, it’s probably time to get serious about swapping the clunky textbook for the silky smooth and interactive experience of the web.


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