By La Vanguardia.

Over the last few years, primary and secondary school classes have progressed rapidly with digitalization, which has caused a change in the educational framework.Textbooks are now accessed through electronic devices, or have been replaced entirely by these devices, which teachers use as pedagogical tools.

Considering this new 2.0 setting, many debate their real usefulness. On one hand, followers of new applied technologies within the educational structure see the devices as motivational elements, adding activities and attention to specific concepts. On the other hand, there are those who criticize a passive use of the content, and believe the devices could be too expensive for families, and take away from the practice of handwriting.

How has technology transformed the educational world?

The reality is that the use of tablets, digital boards, and interactive materials has increased over the last several years in school centres and an even larger increase is expected in the future. This change causes teachers to change their mentality when planning school activities, improving the interaction between teachers and students, and giving students a more tailored learning process, whilst taking advantage of tools that measure statistical information.

Now more than ever, students pay more attention to new technologies, which leads to greater student engagement. Furthermore, it is possible that digitalization and storage of information in the same place, as well as interactions based on new cloud-based storage platforms where students and teachers share resources in real time, could result in a reduction of scholarly materials.

According to the III Survey on the Use of Technology in the Classroom, carried out by BlinkLearning in cooperation with the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in May, 2017, 83.3% of teachers responded stating that the relationship between technology and student motivation is highly or very highly correlated. Other advantages of the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) include access to resources and the incorporation of audio-visual elements. In addition to these advantages, 92.2% of respondents believe that technologies introduced in their centres help in achieving their pedagogical goals.

A new reality in higher education

The use of ICT does not necessarily translate to better grades; however, a positive effect can be seen in other aspects like autonomy, motivation or technological capabilities. In fact, this digitalization of capabilities is assumed at universities. Nobody questions that the university must be placed at the top of innovation. In this regard, many companies and institutions, such as Santander Bank and cutting-edge Spanish universities in cooperation, have set themselves to putting technology beyond compulsory education.

Ricardo Palomo, Financial Economy Professor of the CEU San Pablo, commenting on conclusions drawn from the report by Crue Spanish Universities TIC 360º – Tendencies TIC 2017, states that: “More and more teachers use technological innovations, including applications to undertake questionnaires in the classrooms, audio-visual resources and a growing range of options. It is important that students are updated as the laptop is more and more common as a day-to-day tool”.

Is it the end of the textbook or just the beginning of a new era?

In response to those who foresee the end of textbooks due to the growing use of tablets and electronic boards, the education community agrees that the pedagogical process is enriched with a dual use of new and old resources.

There are different results for the use of different supporting tools in secondary schools. It is easier to search information with the use of tablets and PCs. However, paper books are more effective in obtaining quieter and more focused reading. The essential point is that students must be capable of using any tool”, according to José Moyano, President of the National Association of Textbook and School Material Editors (Anele).

Moyano states that: “The introduction of tablets and PCs in the classrooms must be accompanied by other elements such as content adapted to new tools, qualified teachers that are able use such tools properly, and an adequate connectivity in the classroom which allows students use them”.

A real and efficient implementation in scholarly centres

Many educational centres throughout Spain have implemented the new digital formula. The use of textbooks has invariably been of secondary order, relegating itself as merely consulting support, whereas the tablets and electronic files make up for 100% of teaching hours in centres such as the Escuela Sadako in Barcelona.

In this regard, there are multiple digital platforms created for this purpose. Highlighted amongst them is Project Horizonte 2020, which has been implemented in 10% of centres that take part in project-based learning, without textbooks and fully supported by digital material.

The textbook will no longer be the main tool for teachers in many Spanish educational centres

Another example might be theFlipped Classroomor funny classroom, where general learning explanations, lectures and formal classes imparted by teachers are moved into another educational process, which is usually located outside the classroom. They are facilitated by audio-visual tools such as digital video, laptops and tablets.

This methodology based in abandoning textbooks as a fundamental tool for teachers is gaining more and more supporters within the educational community, and advocates for the following idea: new digital means offering a considerably larger spectrum of knowledge and more ideological diversity by promoting creativity and opening the minds of students.