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Interest in Digital Textbooks Growing

West Virginia is that latest state to show interest in testing digital textbook options for K-12 schools, according to this article in the Charleston Gazette.

The state has asked two high school history teachers to experiment in their classrooms with Web resources and other digital content. Student will be issued laptops and have access to a wireless network. It's not crystal clear from the article, but it sounds like the teachers are essentially tapping into open educational resources on the Web.

"There's a zillion different sites and ideas out there,'' one of the teachers told the Gazette. "We're basically building this database of Web sites that can be used by social studies teachers all over the state.''

Last week, it was announced that a select group of schools in the Indianapolis school district would test out content provided by Discovery Education in place of traditional textbooks. California launched its own digital textbook initiative last year with a review of about a dozen open-source math and science texts and the promise of more in the future.

As state and local budgets tighten, textbooks tend to be one of those purchase items that get pushed to the back burner for a while. Given the expansion of free online resources across content areas, it is only natural that school officials would explore their options for supplementing aging texts with updated content on the Web. But many experts caution that finding appropriate materials and fitting them into the established curriculum in an efficient manner is not always that easy.

What's your case for, or against, digital texts?

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