Far from being obsolete, many healthcare students continue to rely on textbooks as  their primary method of learning new content (Boudains et al., 2013; Wynter et al.,  2019). I believe that textbooks continue to play a vital part in education today,  however, advancements in technology has also allowed this form of learning to  become more effective, with the development of electronic textbooks, allowing them  to remain an integral part of the modern educational strategy. This allows students  to have access to high quality, in depth information, whilst also incorporating  additional features which can make the learning process more effective. In the  rapidly advancing world of evidence based medicine, printed texts can quickly  become out of date. The use of electronic textbooks however, can provide both a  reliable source of information, and facilitates updating information more easily.  

Modern electronic textbooks often have additional features, introducing elements of  interactivity, allowing the student to engage more fully with the material. Developers  of electronic textbooks can design material in keeping with educational pedagogy,  such as Gagne’s nine events of instruction, with opportunities to present content,  provide opportunities to practice content and give feedback through interactive  features, facilitating learners to assess their performance, and making the learning  process more effective (Al-Qassabi and Al-Samarraie, 2013). A key stage of the  nine events of instruction is the presentation of knowledge, which textbooks are  able to reliably provide. Other sources of information may not be as well regulated  and thus could potentially result in the spread of misinformation. Advancement in  technology could also provide platforms for leaners to engage online with other  learners or teachers whilst using the electronic textbook, thus further enhancing the  learning experience, and allowing users to be able to explore topics further with  their colleagues, and encouraging peer learning, which could help to further  develop understanding of the topic.  

In my own experience as a learner during medical school, I found using electronic  textbooks to be an essential stage of my learning process, to create a strong  foundation of my knowledge base. I found electronic textbooks with question banks  linked to content to be especially useful, and meant that I was able to gain this  knowledge quickly and effectively through spaced repetition. This allowed me to  gain essential knowledge during medical school which I have been able to put into  practice now as a foundation doctor.  

In conclusion, textbooks remain an essential part of modern education. Technology  has allowed textbooks to gain additional features, resulting in more effective  learning materials. They continue to be a common resource used by students, and  play a vital role in learning today. 


Al-Qassabi H and Al-Samarraie H. (2013). Applying Gagne’s Nine Events in the  Design of an Interactive eBook to Learn 3D Animation. Scientific and Academic  Publishing, 3(3), 60-72. DOI:10.5923/j.ac.20130303.05  

Baudains C. Et al. (2013). What educational resources are medical students using  for personal study during primary care attachments? Education for Primary Care,  24:5, 340-345, DOI: 10.1080/14739879.2013.11494198  

Wynter, L. et al. (2019). Medical students: what educational resources are they  using? BMC Medical Education 19, 36. DOI: 10.1186/s12909-019-1462-9

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