Innovation is needed to shatter our textbook addiction – a 5.5 billion dollar market.

I posted an article on RoadtoTeaching’s Facebook page that reports some schools are embracing tablets – namely the iPad – in lieu of textbooks.  These type of articles often pop up from time-t0-time.  Frankly, it’s a shame this trend hasn’t gotten more traction.

Introducing iPads with a high-quality open-source curriculum shatters a lot of the status quo in our education system,  mainly reducing our costly reliance on (outdated as soon as they are printed) textbooks – a 5.5 billion dollar industry for secondary schools.  

Yet, integrating iPads and open-source curriculum into the school environment MUST be viewed and treated as resources. In this respect these resources need to be thoughtfully utilized, avoiding wasting taxpayer money and – worse – negatively affecting student learning.

School leaders (including teachers) need to assess what the end-game is.  What is the purpose of using iPads instead of traditional textbooks and what student outcomes will be affected?  This must be measured to give accountability to all stakeholders.

Next, developing a thorough implementation plan is necessary to identifying challenges/barriers to using iPads.  Barriers may range from teacher resistance in giving up their treasured textbook to I.T. departments worried about iPads being stolen.

This plan must also identify supplementary resources to make the iPads successful.  School leaders will FAIL if they simply buy the iPads and place them in the classrooms.  An example of a supplementary resource is ensuring on-going professional development (a resource) is in place to assist teachers in this technology transition.

Now I am really getting on my soapbox….

Innovation – of teaching, resource-management, curriculum, student support – needs to be at the heart of our education system.  Let’s hope our school leaders begin to take the bold and necessary steps to ensure our teachers and students get the 21st century tools they need to be successful.

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Additional articles of interest…

Low-cost textbooks for college students make debut - The state community-college board is creating low-cost textbooks and course materials and distributing them online for free in a new program that rolled out Monday.

Utah open textbook project

This site is examining cost effectiveness and educational effectiveness of open textbooks.




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