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Textbooks Going the Way of the Dodo?

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Educators predict that textbooks will eventually become a thing of the past — although opinions vary on when this transformation will take place, according to the New York Times. William M. Habermehl, superintendent of the 500,000-student Orange County schools, believe this change could occur within the next five years, claiming, “[digital textbooks] can be better than traditional textbooks.”

“[Kids] don’t engage with textbooks that are finite, linear, and rote,” said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, La. “Teachers need digital resources to find those documents, those blogs, those wikis that get them beyond the plain vanilla curriculum in the textbooks.”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger capitalized on the potential for change this summer, as he announced an initiative that would replace some high school science and math textbooks with free, “open source” digital versions. Gov. Schwarzenegger hopes the free textbooks will save the state money and will free kids from carrying around heavy, outdated, beaten-up books.

Yet educators remain wary of sweeping digital reform, as a number of students in many school districts across the country do not have personal access to a computer, Blackberry, Kindle, or other technological reading devices. These educators believe a technological revolution would only deepen the digital divide.

“A large portion of our kids don’t have computers at home, and it would be way too costly to print out the digital textbooks,” said Tim Ward, assistant superintendent for instruction in California’s 24,000-student Chaffey Joint Union High School District, where nearly half of the students are from low-income families.

Given the current state of the economy, many educators and technology experts believe the widespread K-12 digital revolution is coming — in due time.

“There’s a lot of stalled purchasing and decision making right now,” said Mark Schneiderman, director of federal education policy at the Software & Information Industry Association. “But it’s going to happen.”

1 Comment

Text books are now no longer fashionable and never were at all for the top achievers in any curriculum! A diverse source of information for learners has long been the ideal. This ideal will be filled by online digital,interactive and virtual referencing and sourced information. Digital texts will be more current, relevant and timely. Besides such texts will be more mindful of the students' learning styles and learning competencies. Differentiated learning that is a currency to modern instruction will be easily achieved through digital texts than in the old system.

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