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Monday, 02 February 2015 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

Nick Gibb, the United Kingdom Schools Minister, has called for a return to the use of text books in schools in a recent speech to an educational publishers conference in London. He claimed teachers in UK schools need to ditch their reliance on an “anti-textbook ethos” if UK schoolchildren are going to catch up with their counterparts overseas.

He said a culture in the classroom of over reliance on photocopied worksheets handed out to children, is to blame and that working from textbooks can help deliver a better education by making it more structured, reduce costs for schools and enable parents to help their children with school work at home. The photocopied worksheets take time for teachers to prepare and are also easily lost by the children, who do not place the same value on them as they would a printed book.

Of course his speech was warmly welcomed by the publishers of those text books in the audience, for it is they who stand to profit if his plans are implemented. The Minister used the release of a UK government backed study to justify his strategy. According to the research by Cambridge Assessment, an examination body, only 10% of maths teachers in the UK used a textbook as the basis for lessons, compared to say 95% in Finland and 70% in Singapore. The findings were even worse in science with only 4% of teachers using text books.

The researchers claimed that high performing students from places such as South Korea, Germany and Poland had textbooks as a core part of their studies. These findings are supported by another piece of research published in the USA recently by Nicholas G. Carr, who argued that increased use of the Internet reduced our mental capacity and cognitive studying powers.

Computer-like brains illustration

Research indicates that increased use of the Internet may reduce mental capacity and cognitive studying powers

In his book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” he claimed that presenting information collated by search engines such as Google or Bing, reduced the ability of the user to concentrate or contemplate – both necessary parts of the learning process.

In the Business of Printed Educational Textbooks – One Person’s Challenge is Another Person’s Opportunity

Of course the challenge for educational printers is to keep up with the regular changes in the curriculum, provide flexibility for teachers to select various personalised elements for their course work, introduce more colour pages and keep costs down. This is now a huge opportunity for educational printers who can now meet the challenges with digital printing.

Benny Landa and the Landa S10 press and graph showing expected growth of digital printing of books

Digitally produced books will grow from 4% in 2010 to 14% by 2016*

The ability to print “just in time” before the start of the academic year with the current curriculum, personalised versioning and cheaper colour are all features of the latest digital presses – including the Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press that prints B1 (41 in.) size sheets, a format which matches many of the printers’ current binding lines.

Naturally there is a place in education for the use of the latest technology. But as a number of experts are now suggesting, a return to the more traditional and structured format of the printed page is the way forward for today’s teachers – and educational printers moving into digital will be the beneficiaries.

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Landa S10 - Printing Press