Is this a textbook adoption year for your department? Whether you are a multiple subject teacher or specialize in one area of STEM education, it really is time to start advocating for electronic alternatives to printed books.
No doubt you have seen the students struggling with overloaded backpacks, hunched over as they work to balance themselves when hoisting the heavy cargo from class to class. Students will often carry all of their books all day long because the limited time between classes is not enough to get to their locker, exchange books and get to their next class without being tardy. Books don’t discriminate based on physical strength, and it is not uncommon to see a 90 pound 9th grader carrying 40 pounds of books. That is a serious problem, and teachers see it every day.
A solution to this is readily available in the form of tablets such as the iPad, and student health issues aside, digital textbooks make sense for education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has recently expressed the need for schools to transition toward digital texts as quickly as possible. His statements make for a good starting point for you to begin advocating for these changes before your school decides on their adoption. Here are some other points to consider:
*Students can generate and share information with peers and with the instructor for instant, meaningful feedback on their work.
*Digital textbooks can not be vandalized, have papers torn out of them, or need to be rebound at the end of the year.
*One tablet can have a virtually unlimited set of digital textbooks.
*Common Core Standards require cross curricular learning, and tablets allow instant access to any and all subjects.
There are many different models of adopting tablets to replace printed books, and we won’t go into those here just to repeat what others have said. Suffice it to say that the cost of printed books is high, and they have a lifespan limited by their physical nature, their subject matter, and well, most student don’t like textbooks. Tablets give students the world at their fingertips, allowing them to virtually move from their text to a museum to an art gallery to a quiz to a science lab, instantly and on demand. Many districts have demonstrated that costs balance those of printed book adoptions.
So as we make headway working to infuse technology into our curricula, and strive for consistency in content delivery, digital textbooks make more and more sense, and printed books look like the dinosaurs they feel like when in a student’s backpack. We can’t expect to buy books for our Kindle at home and expect students not to be able to do the equivalent at school. South Korea has committed to all Digital Textbooks by 2015. How will our math and science scores compare by then if we sit idly by and let our students learn by reading ink printed on dead trees?