“It is wrong to cut textbook costs in favor of digital technology” – Corriere.it

from Antonella Valorosso *

Against the ministerial memorandum requiring “completely reduced book supply costs as a result of digitization”, there is a whole scholarly literature that shows that paper is the best medium for long and complex reading

Perugia April 26, 2022. Secondary School of Linguistics and Humanities «A. The first item on the agenda: the adoption of textbooks. And it is instantly a nightmare because there is no way to make up for it. Colleagues try in every way but the result does not change. Caught the conversation of literature professors. “In 1F, I changed Latin (cheaper) and I would be willing to put the grammar in digital, but it’s still more than 20 euros.” “In 1 liter I did not even put grammar and it takes 52 euros.” “I’m also in 1D I’d like to opt for numerical rules, but it won’t completely solve the overtaking problem.” “Excuse me, was it not possible to think of adopting the text of history in digital form? Always better than grammar that needs practice.” But what is the origin of this collective delusion? The answer is simple. Note MI n. 5022 of 28.02.2022 with the topic “Adoption of textbooks in schools of all types and levels – school year 2022/2023” further reduces expenditure ceilings for the purchase of textbooks, assuming “the unattainable cost reduction of the entire supply of books derived from the digitization and availability of technology support.

In other words, in the secret rooms of MIUR, some bureaucrats who have never set foot in a classroom assume, based on unexplained arguments, a) that all students of Italian public schools have at least one available tablet and internet connection (both at school and at home); b) For the purpose of teaching the effectiveness of using digital text and paper text are completely equivalent. Well for this dear (or dear) bureaucrat of 2022, I’d like to officially report that things are very different from what he or she supposes. Not only because the “transition to the digital system and the availability of technological support” in many Italian public schools is still a mirage (and this can also be addressed with a serious investment policy for the modernization of networks and the purchase of devices that will be provided on a loan for use at least to all students in the mandatory range), but before everything because The paper book is also an indispensable tool in the classroom 4.0 That every teacher has a certain digital competence (they are the majority) that they would like to have. and he Especially when the textbook is the only paperback most so-called “digital natives” will encounter on their way..

The use of the adjective “so called” is not accidental, dear, dear MIUR, because those who live and work every day in Italian public schools (and in this case also the sequence of verbs is not accidental, because in the first school lives before working on it) know that the digital skills of the majority The vast majority of their students are limited to using Instagram and Whatsapp. The boys and girls of the third millennium are in dire need of dealing with real books. With pages looking fresh in September, and if all goes as they should, in June it has turned into a mosaic of color. Books that have weight, because studying is above all an effort, but they are the only books in which you can tell (and perhaps even appreciate) the slow time to read and think.

Studies conducted by reputable international research centers Like the one published in 2008 in the International Book Review (Volume 5, No. 2) – Millennial attitudes toward books and e-books Showed that paper is the best medium for long and complex reading. But the most interesting are the results of research conducted by Anne Mangen and published in the International Journal of Educational Research (Volume 58, 2013). in the article Reading written texts on paper versus a computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension (“Comparison of Linear Reading on Paper and on Screen: Effects on Text Comprehension”) The Norwegian researcher reported that she had two groups of 36 second-year students who read two texts, one 1,400 and one 2,000 words in high school: first provided the paper text and the other a PDF file to read on computer screen. Then the two groups were asked to do some comprehension exercises. For the researcher, the result of the experiment leaves no room for doubt: “Students who read the paper text scored significantly higher in understanding the text than those who read the text in digital format.” We highly suggest reading the entire Anne Mangen article by Director Maria Assunta Palermo, whose digital signature can be read at the bottom of the ministerial note above. And please, dear Director Palermo, do not give in to the temptation to print the file to read it on paper. Keep in mind that due to the “availability of technology media” in MIUR offices, you can easily read them on your computer screen with the consequent “cost reduction” of ink and paper for taxpayers.

*Professor of Literature and Latin at “A.Pieralli” Secondary School of Languages ​​and Humanities in Perugia

Apr 27, 2022 (change on Apr 27, 2022 | 19:36)

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