Digital Textbooks: Our FutureSeptember 28, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 4 Comments
(Authored by Tyler Spitz)
Digital textbooks, such as Kindle, may become the future in our schools. The benefits of electronic textbooks are plentiful, and I promote the idea of switching from traditional textbooks to electronic textbooks, better known as e-books.
Hard copy of textbooks can be found in schools, and students can flip pages by hand to access information. Students with electronic texts are able to flip though pages in texts too. As long as all students have access to a textbook or electronic text, we will be able to teach the same lessons, find information and tools, and assign homework. The purpose of the text, whether it is electronic or hard copy, has not changed.
The next time you have a textbook try to update it by inserting pages or changing problems or verbiage in a certain chapter. The only alternative, other than to continue using the text, would be to purchase an entire new set of textbooks. With electronic books schools would be able to purchase updated versions of a text (such as version 2.0) at a lesser cost than purchasing a new set of textbooks. With electronic texts, we have the ability to keep the information current.
If your state changes their standards, then your textbook becomes outdated. In California, 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science courses are being offered. 10 of the 16 electronic texts being offered to students meet or exceed 90% of California’s academic standards. Of the 16 texts, 4 have met 100% of the state standards. For more information on California’s digital textbook, read Governor Schwarzenegger Releases Free Digital Textbook Initiative.
One particular benefit of an electronic text is the limitless possibilities. Unlike a book, the electronic text won’t deteriorate over time. (Yes, the electronic device might too.) An electronic book will allow a teacher and/or school to have access to a library full of textbooks. Imagine having three or four different sources to utilize, but only one electronic device needed for the students. As a teacher, the more I have at my disposal to educate the students, the better prepared I am to teach.
There of course are contradictions, opinions and studies supporting paperback textbooks, but I’m not currently buying into them. The Future of Textbooks: Ebooks in the Classroom discusses studies that favor traditional texts over electronic text. For example, a 1998 study published in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society journal reported a decline in speed and accuracy and an increase in fatigue when reading from a screen rather than paper. Does this mean the school systems should revert back to pen, paper and textbooks? Should corporate business revert back also? I know I would truly love to write this blog by hand (erase, write, erase, cross out…) and then distribute it on paper.
There is an initial setup costs that needs to be accounted for when the transition to digital textbooks is made. Each student will need access to an electronic device that will allow them to access the electronic texts. One potential difficulty is that the costs of the electronic devices may prohibit financially disadvantaged school districts, which can widen the gap between the rich and poor. My point here is straight forward, we buy textbooks so why not invest in electronic texts.
It is clear to see that there are arguments that both support and go against the movement of e-textbooks in the classroom setting. Do you feel electronic texts would be beneficial for students and teachers as we move deeper into our technologically savvy world?