Back to the Future: Textbooks or Tablets in School?

Go Lean Commentary

CU Blog - Textbooks or Tablets in School - Photo 1Its back-to-school time … again.

That there – what you just did: reminiscing about your own back-to-school experiences – that is the problem. You see, we cannot project “our” back-to-school visuals on today’s students.

  • The world has changed;
  • Schools have to change;
  • Students have to change; and yes …
  • We – parents – must change too.

We have said it repeatedly in these commentaries: the Caribbean is “partying like it’s 1999” when in truth the world’s academic competition is clocking in at 2017.

Don’t believe it?

Look at all those high school students that graduated from their Caribbean high schools in 2017, 2016, 2015, etc.. Where are they now? For far too many Caribbean communities, a majority of those graduates have abandoned their Caribbean homes. Why? Our inability to compete.

So it should not be “Back to school” or “back to the status quo”, rather it should be …

“Back to the Future”.

The Caribbean must now transform to become a community that they have never been before; a community only envisioned for the future.

The future is now! Even textbooks are so “Old School”, while e-Textbooks are so new …

CU Blog - Textbooks or Tablets in School - Photo 2

This is the debate right now: Should schools continue to distribute textbooks or deploy tablets or PC’s (personal computers) for students’ course work?

This is a debate … everywhere – even here in the Caribbean – see this news article here from the local St Lucia Times Daily Newspaper:

News Article: Textbooks or Tablets in School?

(By Marie Miguel) There is a huge debate going on in schools all across the country. It is not about violence, bullying, drugs, or similar issues. The debate is whether schools should continue using text books or switch to using computer tablets. There are many good arguments on both sides, but the fact is, schools are doing it anyway, regardless of what the parents want. Of course, you have the choice whether to sign the paper saying it is alright for your child to use a tablet and be on the internet. However, if you do not sign that paper, your child will not get the same education as the rest of the class. The world has gone digital and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it.

The Pros and Cons of Tablets in School
Here are some of the pros and cons of tablets in the classroom:


  • According to the United States Department of Education, students learn 30-80% faster with tablets.
  • A tablet can hold hundreds of books on one device as well as homework, files, and communication with the teachers. This means no more heavy backpacks or lost books.
  • E-books are up to 60% cheaper than printed books.
  • Children scored 30% higher on tests using a tablet rather than a textbook.
  • Tablets have interactive features that textbooks do not have such as a search function, highlighters, and a built-in dictionary and thesaurus.
  • Learning technology skills are important for their future.
  • Tablets can be automatically updated.
  • Students and schools save money on paper, pencils, and other items that tablets do not need.
  • Files on the tablet can be transferred to other electronic devices and portable data recorders. That means no more lost homework.
  • Students enjoy learning on tablets more than with textbooks so they learn more.


  • There are medical consequences with using tablets such as neck pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and eye strain.
  • Textbooks are five times cheaper than tablets, including training teachers and buying software.
  • Tablets have a lot of distractions such as games, email, apps, and other websites the children can get onto instead of doing their work or listening to the teacher.
  • The brain is able to comprehend more when reading printed text rather than digital text. In fact, on average, people read digital text up to 30% slower than printed text.
  • Many students do not have (or cannot afford) sufficient internet service to use their tablets at home. That means homework is not going to get done.
  • Repairing a tablet costs a great deal more than fixing a book.
  • Textbooks do not get malware, spyware, freeze, crash, and cannot get hacked.
  • Tablets need to be charged and cannot last a whole school day.
  • Students are able to cheat or use shortcuts to do their schoolwork.
  • Some textbooks are still not available in digital format.

Time for a Solution
Many parents just do not want their children to use the internet. Some have never had the opportunity to experience the technological advances that are available to their children or they just do not understand. These feelings of inadequacy can make parents angry and ill-equipped to make a good decision for their children. Other parents are computer savvy but do not think their child is ready for the internet. It is important for these parents to have someone to talk to that understands these issues and can help them realize the benefits of letting their children learn computer skills. There are licensed professionals that parents and their children can talk to or chat with online or over the phone. Together they may be able to come to some kind of compromise that works out well for everyone.

Source: St Lucia Times – Daily Newspaper (Posted 08-03-2014) from:

In a previous Go Lean commentary, it was detailed how a related issue, textbooks pricing, reflects American Capitalism – not free market economics – whereby the College Textbook industry is known for their abuses and classic Crony-Capitalism, (where public policy is set to benefit private parties). That commentary explained that since many college expenses are subsidized by governments (federal and state) by means of grants or low-interest, deferred student loans, the marketplace knows that governmental entities will pay…unconditionally, so textbook prices go up … and up.

So how do we move the community forward into the future while also being “on guard” for Crony-Capitalistic abuses?

As related in that commentary from August 25, 2014, the book Go Lean…Caribbean asserts that the Caribbean region must not allow the US to take the lead for our own nation-building, that American capitalistic interest tends to hijack policies intended for the Greater Good. The recommended strategy is to leverage the needs of all 30 countries (42 million people & 4 languages) with Group Purchasing and fully embrace e-Learning (e-Books and tablets).

This book, Go Lean… Caribbean – available to download for free – serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), which represents change for the region. The CU/Go Lean roadmap has 3 future-focused prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines – and the educational apparatus – in order to grow the regional economy and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance – including primary, secondary and tertiary school administrations plus Group Purchasing Organizations – to support these engines.

The Go Lean roadmap provides turn-by-turn directions on how to leverage Group Purchasing and to elevate the Caribbean’s tertiary education systems as a whole. This roadmap is presented as a planning tool, pronouncing the collaborative benefits of a unified educational agenda with these early statements in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12 & 14):

viii. Whereas the population size is too small to foster good negotiations for products and commodities from international vendors, the Federation must allow the unification of the region as one purchasing agent, thereby garnering better terms and discounts.

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores

xxi.  Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxvii.  Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.

The Go Lean book posits that even though education is a vital ingredient for Caribbean economic empowerment, there has been a lot of flawed decision-making in the past, both individually and community-wise. The vision in the Go Lean/CU roadmap is that of a confederation of the 30 Caribbean member-states doing the heavy-lifting of optimizing economic and education policies. The Go Lean book details those future-focused policies; and other ethos to adopt, plus the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to impact the tertiary education in the region:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations – Group Purchase Organizations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments (ROI) Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Community Ethos – Ways to Close the Digital Divide Page 31
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing – Purchasing Cooperatives Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Agents of Change – Technology Page 57
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Education Department Page 85
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Labor Department – On Job Training Page 89
Implementation – Ways to Benefit from Globalization Page 119
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Education Page 159
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Student Loans Page 160
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 169
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Libraries Page 187
Appendix – Education and Economic Growth Page 258
Appendix – Measuring Education Page 266
Appendix – New Student Loan Scandal – Bad American Example Page 286
Appendix – India’s $35 Tablet– Good Model-Example Page 296

This is the assertion of the Go Lean book (Page 31): if there is a choice or debate between Textbooks versus Tablets, choose Tablets. This quest should be pursued aggressively by Caribbean stakeholders, welcoming any help from global foundations:

The Bottom Line on One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)
OLPC is a project supported by the Miami-based “One Laptop per Child Association” (OLPCA) and the Cambridge, MA-based OLPC Foundation (OLPCF), two U.S. non-profit organizations set up to oversee the creation of affordable educational devices for use in the developing world. The project was originally founded by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte and funded by member organizations like AMD, Chi Mei, eBay, Google, Marvell, News Corporation, Nortel, RedHat, & Quanta. In the first years of the project, the Association managed development and logistics, and the Foundation managed fundraising such as the Give One Get One campaign. In 2010 the Association set up a new office in Miami under Rodrigo Halaby, and currently oversees deployment and support for their XO-1.5 laptop and its successors, and country partnerships. The foundation, led by now Chairman Nicholas Negroponte, currently oversees development of future software and hardware, including the ARM based OLPC XO-1.75 laptop ($180) and the OLPC XO-3 tablet ($100).

Information on the official site of OLPC indicates that as of 2011 there were about over 2.4 million XO laptops delivered.

The Go Lean roadmap calls for bridging the Digital Divide and aligning with many not-for-profit foundations, of domestic and foreign sources. For example, the One Laptop Per Child movement – identified above – offers $200 laptops (or cheaper) for Third World countries. In addition, there are now $35 tablets emerging from India (Page 296Appendix OC). The plan is for the CU to steer foundations and philanthropic causes to impact this mission, to equip/train low-income Caribbean residents for computerized terminals and access.

CU Blog - Textbooks or Tablets in School - Photo 3

Tablets and e-Books should be all the rage. See here for the 8 Best Tablets for Students for 2017:

VIDEO – 8 Best Tablets For Students 2017 –

Published on May 17, 2017
Please Note: Our choices for this wiki may have changed since we published this review video. Our most recent set of reviews in this category, including our selection for the year’s best tablet for students, is exclusively available on Ezvid Wiki.
Tablets for students included in this wiki include the dell venue 8 7000, amazon fire hd 8, lenovo tab 10, lg electronics g pad ii, microsoft surface pro 4, apple ipad pro, samsung galaxy tab s3, and asus zenpad z580c.
Most Recent Picks:…

The foregoing news article and VIDEO relate to topics that should be of serious concern for Caribbean planners. We want to foster an education agenda that propels the Caribbean’s best interest. We do not want to be parasites of the American hegemony; we want to be better. While the US is the world’s largest Single Market economy, we only want to model some of their examples.

Most importantly, we want our students to study at home, primarily, or at worst, remain in the region. This minimizes the risks of matriculating abroad and never returning – a frequent Caribbean dilemma.

All of these educational issues have been addressed in previous Go Lean blog-commentaries; consider this sample here: American Bad Model: Lower Ed! American Good Example: College Sports American Experiences: 150 Years of HBCU’s Where the Jobs Are – Animation and Game Design Detroit makes Community College free Where the Jobs Are – Computers Reshaping Global Job Market Bahamas Welcomes the New University STEM Jobs Are Filling Slowly College of the Bahamas Master Plan 2025 – Reach for the Lamp-Post Caribbean loses more than 70 percent of tertiary educated to brain drain CXC and UK textbook publisher hosting CCSLC workshops in Barbados

The book Go Lean…Caribbean posits that many problems of the region – education, a most prominent issue – are too big for any one member-state to solve alone, that there is the need for the leverage of a wider Caribbean confederacy. The purpose of this Go Lean/CU roadmap is to make the Caribbean homeland, a better place to live, work, learn and play. This effort is more than academic, more than just future scheming; no, this must be a plan for today.

We first employ e-Learning … and all of its related arts and sciences. And do it now!

We need to better compete with the world; education and e-learning could be the great equalizer. The book projects a Cyber Caribbean (Page 127):

Forge electronic commerce industries so that the internet communications technology (ICT) can be a great equalizer in economic battles of global trade. This includes e-Government (outsourcing and in-sourcing for member-states systems) and e-Delivery, Postal Electronic Last Leg mail, e-Learning and wireline/wireless/satellite initiatives.

Strategically, the Go Lean roadmap posits that to succeed in the global marketplace, the Caribbean region must not only consume but rather also create, produce, and distribute intellectual property. So subjects like tablets and e-books are germane for our considerations. Tactics like Group Purchasing (GPO) makes it efficient and effective to minimize the associated costs of educating the general population, and specific learning needs.

These are hallmarks of the CU technocracy: policies that reflect a future-focus.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and school administrations, to lean-in for the changes described in the book Go Lean…Caribbean. 🙂

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

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