From Textbooks to Virtual Learning Villages
According to this article in the Boston Globe, Houghton Mifflin, one of the largest textbook companies in the U.S., has signed a $40 million contract with Detroit public schools to provide not only textbooks, but also the software to create an interactive classroom network called Learning Village.
Learning Village can help teachers in the district create and assign homework and also provides tools to evaluate students' progress. Providing online and digital materials to go along with textbooks is becoming commonplace, experts say, in order for textbook publishers to stay competitive. The software, more so than the textbooks, was the big draw for the Detroit school district.
One issue the article does bring up about moving to such software platforms is professional development. The digital elements that accompany textbooks can't be used to their full potential unless teachers are given instruction in how they can best be incorporated into lessons, says the article. Consequently, having enough professional development to familiarize teachers with the tools available can go a long way in providing effective instruction.