Saturday, November 04, 2006

Will Tomorrow's Schools Toss Their Paper Textbooks?

A number of classrooms in Texas are replacing their traditional textbooks with e-books:
First it was Dick and Jane readers, then typewriters, then reel-to-reel film projectors. Now another American education icon may be disappearing: the hardbound textbook. More and more school districts are replacing traditional textbooks with electronic versions, and a few have opted to eliminate textbooks altogether.

Electronic textbooks are usually accessed either through an online server or are downloaded to student laptops.

In North Texas, Plano and Irving schools are introducing e-books into a few classrooms, and Lancaster school officials also are considering them. A portion of the $215 million school bond package before Lancaster voters on Tuesday is earmarked for student laptops, the first step in the process.

"Midland is moving away from textbooks entirely and using online resources," said Anita Givens, director of instruction materials and educational technology at the Texas Education Agency. "In some classrooms teachers give students traditional textbooks to keep at home, and they use online books or other resources at school."

But no local district appears to be going as far as Forney.

School officials there hope most students will be using only electronic
textbooks within two years. The plan, already being tested in one Forney school, also depends on passage Tuesday of a school bond package that provides $11.8 million for laptops and system upgrades.

The district most likely would be the first in the state to use e-books in every classroom for grades five to 12, Ms. Givens said.

"There are some districts doing this maybe in a class or two, but not 100 percent," Ms. Givens said. "If other districts are doing it this wide scale, they're being awfully quiet about it."
There's much more to read in the whole thing.

In my own junior high classroom, I offer students a choice for their "leave-at-home" textbook. They may choose between a traditional hardcover paper text or a CD-ROM e-book.

The ebooks have proven to be very popular with both kids and parents.
See our latest EduPosts and this date's Extra Credit Reading.