Should Textbooks at Rectory Be Online?


With the increase of technology in schools around the United States and at The Rectory School, a big question that comes up is whether textbooks should be online. Whether this is the right choice is up for debate. Some might say that putting textbooks online would be a great way to save money and be more environmentally friendly. On the other hand, others say that there are still pros with keeping hard copy textbooks. The DiRectory wanted an inside look at what Rectory students and teachers think about this topic. Here is what they had to say:


DiRectory: Do you think it’d be a good idea for Rectory to put all their textbooks online? Why/why not?

“It would be a good idea to put all the textbooks online, because then the students wouldn’t have to carry all their books. Also, it would protect the books from getting torn or having ripped pages, etc.”
Caroline L., 6th Grade

There are schools that have made this move to have all of their books online (ex. Cushing Academy). It would help to ask them how the experience has been for them. I, personally, think it would be a good idea to move in this direction.” –Mr. Zerpa, Spanish Teacher

 Yes, because carrying around textbooks is too heavy.” Olivia M.-E., 6th grade

“No, because it would be just as easy to get your book out of your backpack as it would be to get on your computer.”  Andrew Z., 7th grade

“No, if something happens to your technology, then you are stuck without your online books. You have to think about what would happen if your computer is taken for a tech check or if you lost it. When you have your textbooks, you have to take care of them and be responsible.”
Ransford N., 8th grade


 DiRectory: How would this affect you?

 “It would affect me because I wouldn’t have to carry around a heavy backpack with a ton of books. It’s hard to carry all my books, and if we had them online, then I wouldn’t have to.” -Yvie B.,
6th grade

 “It would cause less interruptions during class and make class go more smoothly for those kids who misplace their physical textbooks. However, there could be some disadvantages, such as kids being more easily distracted with their laptop open in front of them.” Ms. Slocum, 8th English Teacher

 “It would allow me to bring up a reading on the SmartBoard so everyone is involved, even if they don’t have a computer with them.” –Ms. Bates, 8th grade Language Skills/ English Teacher

“I wouldn’t worry about forgetting or losing my textbooks, which would be a good thing.” –Abisola L., 7th grade

 “I like the normal textbooks. It would affect me, because my family would have to buy me a computer, so I could get to my textbooks.” -Rachel S., 5th grade


DiRectory: Do you think it’d be cheaper to have all your textbooks online? Why/why not?

I think it’d be cheaper to have textbooks online because we wouldn’t have to replace textbooks that have been lost or misplaced.” -Liza P., 8th grade

“Yes! Online books come at a fraction of the cost of hard copies. It would provide a long-term huge economical savings for students. Another benefit is that the kids would not have to carry the heavy backpack loads they currently do. Health wise, the benefits for their bodies would be significant. This could also be an indirect solution for the backpack challenge since backpacks would be easier to carry around, and kids would not need to leave them lying around as much.” –Mr. Zerpa, 4th to 9th grade Spanish Teacher

 “I think it may be cheaper.  It’s not using a lot of paper or ink, so the publication fees might not be as high as a hard copy textbook. You could just print out what you need, when you need it.”
Ms. Bates, 8thgrade English Teacher


DiRectory: Would it be easier for you to carry a laptop or iPad around than to carry all your textbooks?

 “I think it’d be easier to have textbooks online because it’d be less weight on my back.” -Zoe W.,
7th grade

 “Technology, or having a computer, would be easier. Everything is in one place. You don’t have to worry about forgetting your books in dorm, because it would all be there and accessible.” –Nenla D., 9th grade

 “Online textbooks are difficult to work with. I would rather carry my textbooks around. Also, I’m used to carrying books around, and I use my locker, so it’s not an issue.” -Kazuki  U., 9th grade


DiRectory: What would be a disadvantage to having textbooks online?

“A disadvantage would be if you lost your laptop or device.” -Sarah G., 7th grade

I’m not sure.  While there are some advantages to online texts, they also make it harder to go back and forth between pages as you look for information.  When I offer my students the choice of reading or test-taking online, many (maybe even most) prefer a printed page.  For these reasons, I would be reluctant to have only online texts, though having both available would be ideal.” –Mrs. Martin, 8th grade Science Teacher/Science Department Head

“The biggest disadvantage would most likely be the teacher’s copy. Subjects such as English and history are usually taught by a teacher walking around the room during instruction with the book in their hands to easily guide class discussions.  This would be difficult if it were online, guess the readings could be printed out… not very green though.” -Ms. Bates, 8th grade English Teacher

“Losing your technology would make it hard to follow along in class and do your homework.” -Ransford N., 8th grade


DiRectory: Do you currently have textbooks online?

 “No, but I’d want them.” -Anna M., 7th grade

 “No, I do not, but it would be helpful.” –Abisola L., 7th grade

“I have an online textbook for math, but I don’t really use it. It’s more for if you want extra help, because there are tutorial videos, or if you don’t have the book with you in class.” -Celton C., 8th grade


DiRectory: Would you want to take notes electronically or handwritten? Why?

“I think that you remember better when you handwrite them. It also makes you learn to have better handwriting.” –Abisola L., 7th grade

“I would rather take notes on Word, because it’s easier. For people who have not so good handwriting, it can be really helpful.” –Andrew Z., 7th grade

“Handwrite. We already have a lot of technology; it would be nice to use some old school techniques. Also, I think it is just as efficient and helps me to remember better.” -Ransford N.,
8th grade

I believe that taking notes electronically is a good thing because there aren’t many mistakes, and you can go back and fix any mistakes easily. It’s also a lot faster, and like me, you sometimes get hand cramps easily whenever you hold the pencil tight.”
-Olivia L., 8th grade


The DiRectory also conducted a survey with 15 students from the 5th and 6th grades. The survey was to find out how many of the students interviewed had a device, and how many didn’t have a device. Below are the results in a pie chart. The results speak for themselves!

Alex G pie chart
Looks like the “haves” far outweigh the “have nots”!


Based on responses by our teachers and students, there is a variety of opinions on whether Rectory should move to online textbooks or not. Ultimately, the decision is up to the administration, but the input of the Rectory community is important to keep in mind, as it affects everyone in different ways. What is your opinion? Are there benefits to online textbooks? Should Rectory consider this path? Join in the discussion and leave comments below!