Last updated on: 5/14/2013 | Author:

Justin Hollander, PhD Biography

Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University
Con to the question "Should Tablets Replace Textbooks in K-12 Schools?"

“Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared a war on paper textbooks. ‘Over the next few years,’ he said in a speech at the National Press Club, ‘textbooks should be obsolete.’ In their place would come a variety of digital-learning technologies, like e-readers and multimedia Web sites… Secretary Duncan is threatening to light a bonfire to a tried-and-true technology — good old paper — that has been the foundation for one of the great educational systems on the planet. And while e-readers and multimedia may seem appealing, the idea of replacing an effective learning platform with a widely hyped but still unproven one is extremely dangerous.

…[D]igital-reading advocates claim that lightweight e-books benefit students’ backs and save schools money. But the rolling backpack seems to have solved the weight problem, and the astounding costs to outfit every student with an e-reader, provide technical support and pay for regular software updates promise to make the e-textbook a very pricey option.

…With strength and durability that could last thousands of years, paper can preserve information without the troubles we find when our most cherished knowledge is stuck on an unreadable floppy disk or lost deep in the ‘cloud.’ Paper textbooks can be stored and easily referenced on a shelf. Data are as easy to retrieve from paper as reaching across your desk for a textbook. They are easy to read and don’t require a battery or plug. Though the iPad and e-readers have increasingly better screen clarity, the idea that every time a person reads a book, newspaper or magazine in the near future they will require an energy source is frightening.

The digitization of information offers important benefits, including instant transmission, easy searchability and broad distribution. But before we shred the last of the paper textbooks, let us pause and remember those old streetcars, and how great it would be if we still had them around.”

“Love Live Paper,” New York Times, Oct. 9, 2012

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University
  • Member, American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)
  • Research Scientist, George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University
  • Full Member, Shrinking Cities International Research Network
  • Director, OpenNeighborhood Project
  • PhD, Planning and Public Policy, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
  • MA, Regional Planning, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • BA, Political Science, Tufts University
  • Recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council – “Gold Star Award” for Excellence in Community Cultural Programming in Feb. 2010.
  • Recipient of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association – Outstanding Student Project Award for “Sophisticated Matchmaking: Identifying Opportunities for Affordable Housing Development in Medford, Massachusetts” in Dec. 2009
  • Recipient of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Student Project Award for supervising “Creating a New Place: A Concept Plan for 15 Peabody Street” in Jan. 2008.
  • Recipient of the Highly Commended Paper Award at the Emerald Literati Network Annual Awards for Excellence in May 2006.
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Tablets Replace Textbooks in K-12 Schools?