By Teachers, For Teachers
Hasta la vista, text books.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is launching a state-wide initiative to encourage schools to explore online, open source instructional materials instead of textbooks.
This is both a move toward the current trends in digital media and a desperate attempt to confront the $24 billion budget deficit in the state. Existing online resources are being screened to determine if they meet state standards.
Kathy Christie, chief of staff at the Education Commission of the States, said Schwarzenegger's plan appears to be the most ambitious of its kind in the nation, although Illinois is also studying digital textbooks. [GO ILLINI]
The future of this initiative is still “cloudy” (pun apologies, but I couldn’t resist). It still needs to pass, the budget savings probably wouldn’t be noticeable until well into the future, and Cali schools don’t have the computers to sustain this shift.
Regardless, Cali might be starting the trend for the rest of the country to follow.
As evidenced by another pending bill in the Golden State, the latest version of the Amazon Kindle is shaping up to be a hand-held version of this vision that could help in the transition.
The Kindle is a wireless reading device that lets you download books, newspaper, blogs, etc from anywhere. It store up to 1500 books, most classics are even available for free download and more digital textbooks are being made available. As an added instructional bonus, there’s a text-to-speech feature that would assist struggling readers and help with pronunciation and fluency in ESL students.
The biggest appeal for me, personally, is that the Kindle mimics the feel of a book (I LOVE the physicality of a book and would really miss it – Luckily, no rich benefactors are offering to buy me one, so that’s a worry for another day). These 2.0 iStudents may be used to working on computers all the time, but there is a need to maintain the mobility of books you can carry everywhere with you. Otherwise, "the dog ate my homework" will just be replace with "why don't you ask Comcast why I couldn't read that chapter?" as the go-to student excuse.
I’m not the only one that thinks the Kindle (or products like it) will be wave of the K-12 future.
Practically speaking, there is no way that any district 10 years from now is going to be able to resist buying a $200 Kindle for their students at the beginning of their 7th grade year and then simply buying textbook updates as the student progresses. The money saved and hassle avoided will be tremendous.
~Chris Edwards, teacher
Are you ready for the digital revolution to terminate your textbooks or do you like things the way they are? Share in the comments section!