NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an undeclared candidate in the 2013 mayoral race, recently shared her proposal to swap textbooks for tablets in NYC public schools. Quinn reasons that the $100 million that normally goes towards buying new and updated editions of text books could be better spent on tablets for each student in the school system. If adopted, the move would also eliminate the copious amounts of paper that needs to be printed in order to make textbooks that are often obsolete after just a few years.
The tablets, Quinn explained, would allow for easier lesson plan and curriculum sharing across classrooms and schools around the world, and the online versions of textbooks could be easier accessed by students at school as well as at home. However, the sustainability question remains: While cutting down on paper production and shipping emissions would certainly be a greener move for NYC, will tablets truly be greener than textbooks in the long-run? Not only would these electronic devices require significant energy and rare minerals to produce, they would also require daily charging and electronic repairs, which could end up costing NYC even more in operating costs.
While technical innovation is always a valuable addition to our educational system, some may wonder if there’s an even greener solution for spreading knowledge and sharing lessons that might avoid high-energy production and upkeep. What do you think?