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12 benefits of digital textbooks for K-12

K-12 school districts are turning to digital textbooks instead of traditional textbooks. Learn about the benefits of digital textbooks for schools.
12 benefits of digital textbooks for K-12
12 benefits of digital textbooks for K-12

As an educator, you’re used to seeing hundreds, or even thousands, of books stored in your textbook room. In those stacks are out-of-date editions printed before new state standards were adopted. There are books with torn or missing pages. Plus, books have gone missing over the years. While K-12 schools have traditionally used printed textbooks, they are now turning to the benefits of digital textbooks. 

Are digital textbooks better than traditional textbooks? What are the benefits of digital textbooks? Read on to find out why they make content easier to access, more engaging and even more customizable. Here are 12 reasons digital textbooks are the best option for K-12 schools, teachers and learners.

Why are online textbooks better?


According to the University of Michigan, 30 million trees were cut down last year to print traditional textbooks. Trees remove harmful carbon dioxide and provide oxygen, which is essential for creating cleaner air. By using digital versus physical textbooks, your school district can help support a stronger, healthier environment. 

Accessible anywhere

Printed textbooks can be forgotten at home or at school. The online versions, though, can be accessed on a computer, a Chromebook or even a phone, so there’s no downtime to learning.

Learners and teachers can access eBooks anywhere from any device since publishers make them compatible for different devices. It makes it easy for schools to transition between remote, hybrid and in-person learning since the content is available in different formats. Digital textbooks can also be downloaded, so students can use them offline if internet service isn’t available.

Why should schools use digital textbooks?


When comparing traditional textbooks versus digital textbooks, there is a cost factor. E-textbooks are more affordable for schools, especially when new editions come into play. When a traditional textbook publisher releases a new edition, those have to be purchased by a school or a district. Updated online textbooks, on the other hand, don’t require a hefty price tag or shipping costs. In fact, Public School Review found that digital versions are 53% cheaper than new printed textbooks.

Instant delivery

With digital options, schools no longer need to order textbooks and wait for them to be delivered to the school. Online books are available instantly. Instead of having students and families line up to pick up their books, the content can simply be downloaded to a device. This is also a great solution if a school decides mid-year to add a supplemental textbook or purchase books for specific learners.  

No storage needed

Imagine a world where classrooms don’t need to find a place to fit stacks of traditional textbooks. With digital textbooks, space opens up for learning centers or more student movement in the classroom. Schools also don’t have to store new textbooks in a textbook room and spend time keeping track of each book.

Automatic updates

Traditionally, publishers update K-12 textbooks every several years. Once new editions are written, schools then have to purchase them, wait for them to ship and store them. With digital textbooks, any update can be made automatically with no down-time. That means your school district curriculum stays relevant and aligned with standards and current events.

Why should teachers use digital textbooks?


Teachers can easily see how their learners perform when they use digital textbooks. That allows for customizing lessons and assignments for groups or individual students. Font sizes for online books can also be enlarged and page brightness can be turned up or down. Page colors can often be inverted, too, which helps some learners see the content more easily. Read-aloud versions of the text are also available to help students who need that accommodation. 


Online textbooks also give teachers the chance to collaborate with the class or allow learners to share with each other. They can share notes, ideas and questions directly through the digital textbook or an online hub related to the text. Collaboration makes learning more meaningful and helps students comprehend content more thoroughly.


Online textbook formats empower learners by giving them the chance to learn at their own pace. 

Students can visit hyperlinks that take them to additional reading. This can help them better understand a concept or allow for further learning if they’re interested in a topic. Learners can also bookmark pages as they read and quickly return to them later for review.

Online editions of textbooks also often include audio and video links. These options personalize the experience for students with different learning styles. Many eBooks also provide students with quizzes or practice questions based off of chapters they’ve just read. Students can use these to take responsibility for their own learning without outside instruction.

Why are eBooks better for students?


Students are constantly immersed in technology and social media. Another one of the benefits of digital textbooks is that the format mirrors how kids absorb content in their daily lives. By embracing digital textbooks versus printed textbooks, school districts teach learners in the way that is most familiar to them.  


Another one of the huge benefits of digital textbooks is that they are interactive. K-12 learners can’t mark up a printed textbook, but they can interact with an online book. Teachers no longer need to make photocopies of book pages in order for students to highlight and make annotations directly on the text. Learners can also search for key terms and quickly copy and paste quotes into their notes. 


When course content is loaded onto a device, students don’t have to lug heavy textbooks around in a backpack. It makes their lives much easier by being able to carry their math, language arts, social studies, science and other textbooks on one device.

The best option for K-12 school districts

If your school district wants to re-envision your technology integration, consider the benefits of digital textbooks in the classroom. Not only are they a more affordable solution than traditional versions, but they also make it easy to customize learning experiences. Look beyond printed textbooks so your students can easily learn from anywhere. 

Explore why educators are reviving the #GoOpen initiative to increase access to free high-quality learning materials.

The GoOpen initiative ebook

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