Textbooks will be obsolete by 2025 – poll

Most adults remember poring over a textbook for their homework or a exam, but many now believe the death knell has sounded for this traditional method of learning.

A report suggests that more than half of UK adults believe it is likely that print textbooks will be obsolete in just six years’ time.

At the same time, the study indicates that many people think new technology will allow the growth of developments such as virtual classrooms.

The Pearson Global Learners Study, conducted with The Harris Poll, questioned around 11,000 adults aged 16-70 around the world, including roughly 1,000 adults in the UK.

It found that among UK adults alone, 59% think it is likely that print textbooks will no longer be used by 2025.

A similar proportion (56%) think it is likely that more primary and secondary pupils will attend school virtually (online) versus attending a traditional school within 10 years.

And nearly seven in 10 (68%) believe more college and university students will attend virtual classes.

In addition, just over half (54%) think that YouTube will become a primary learning tool, and 81% think that learning will become more “self-service” (for example using free online resources and short courses) the older you get.

Ty Goddard, director of the Education Foundation, a think tank focusing on reform, technology and innovation, says the study shows a changing education system, adding that this change “is not going to be neat and tidy, but will represent real challenges to educators and education institutions”.

He said: “The survey’s findings suggest that learners see the demise of the textbook, rise of virtual schooling and increase in ‘self-service’ learning as natural.

“The learners’ ‘new normal’ of digital, virtual and DIY learning in and out of education and the workplace suggests new thinking by policy makers and more responsive institutions across higher education are the way forward; and it is in this context that the role of the educator has never been more important.”

Rod Bristow, head of the UK and core markets at Pearson, said: “It is clear from the findings that new ways of learning are seen as complementary to a degree, challenging educators to offer new ways of improving access to high quality career focused education.”

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