Education on Paper vs. Technology: Recent studies show most people believe paper is crucial to a student’s education. How do CHS students compare to this trend?

Angela Li

According to a study conducted in August by the Paper and Packaging Board, 96 percent of parents think that paper is “an essential part of children being able to achieve their educational goals.” In a society that is becoming increasingly technology-driven, especially locally, with the recent district-wide adoption of Canvas, how does this apply to CHS students?

Every blue day morning, sophomore Ben Ring opens his backpack to work on homework in the performing arts hallway before his first period class, orchestra. What differentiates Ben from his friends around him, who are similarly studying, is the combination of technology and physical school materials which he carries around on a daily basis to study and complete his schoolwork; in addition to his textbooks, Ring also carries his laptop around school. This is not unique to Ring; in fact, many students at CHS today rely on technology, whether it be tablets, laptops, or smartphones, in their classrooms from day to day as part of their education.

Ring said when it comes to studying for tests, his perception is that it is still more convenient and effective to read off of physical textbooks, as it eliminates the distractions associated with digital devices.  

“I think paper gets rid of distractions that are available on devices, so I think it can be a good thing. Physical textbooks are beneficial because there are no distractions from other apps that you have to worry about. I usually use my physical textbooks to study just because it’s tangible, it’s easy to focus on it,” Ring said.

Junior Vivian Luo, said she sees the same in terms of effective studying.

“Usually, when I’m on an electronic device, it gets distracting, and then when I get notifications about things, I get even more distracted.”

Luo offered another reason for her preference for paper over technology while studying.

“The screen is harder for me to read, because then my eyes get tired. Also, my backpack is already really heavy from all the textbooks I carry around so I don’t carry around a laptop, another five pound object, around school with me.”

However, Ring said while he finds it easier to study on paper materials, technology has greatly increased the ease of collaborating and communicating with his classmates and the accessibility of digital materials from his teachers.

“I think some of the benefits of greater technology use is that we produce better work, I mean we’re held accountable because we have everything we need to do it, due dates, information, rubrics, and all of that. Teachers will put all their resources on there, or even extra resources, and if you really want to spend the time to help yourself, you’ve got everything you need to do that,” Ring said. “It makes us a little more responsible and accountable because it does give us everything we need, so there’s no excuse not to have it done correctly. Also, it generally makes things easier because everything’s at one place, instead of Edmodo, and Google Classroom and all that. We also use it to work on projects and to work together and it makes things like that easy cause then we can also take it home with us.”

Zachary Bonewit, technology teacher, said he agrees that technology has made accessing material much easier for students.

“I think technology is important, you know with our school adopting Canvas, it’s a really nice tool. It’s a really good way to get information to students after school, for instance, every presentation, and guided notes, I can put up, all these different resources and documents for the kids to access anywhere they’re at, and I really like that. I think that having the digital resource at your fingertips, because students have phones and they can get that information anywhere, is very beneficial.”

Bonewit said he believes a large reason for the successful use of technology so far in the classroom is the familiarity students today have with technology.

“I think that it relates to the student more because our students, in the last five to six years, are just so connected to their electronics, whether it’s a laptop, iPad, smartphone, or social media. To me, if it relates to the student, they’re more comfortable using technology, and it’s beneficial to them.”

Ring offered another reason for his avid use of technology

“Clearly, CHS is a big paper consumer, very big, and so, it’s important that that paper gets recycled or used responsibly, so as long as people recycle, it makes things a lot better. But with technology, it really eliminates the paper waste, especially, for a short story that may be 20 pages. Not every kid needs a print-out of that. So, I think that it can really help waste and cost for the school.”

Ultimately, Ring said finding the middle ground, personal to each individual, between physical textbooks and technology is crucial to achieving one’s full educational potential in modern education.

“Not everybody loves technology or has the greatest experiences with it,” Ring said. “But for people that know how to use it best for them, I think it can be extremely beneficial.”