KOSU: Electronic Textbooks Could be Future for StudentsNov 12th, 2010 | By Jerrod Shouse | Category: Industry & Lobbying, Policy, State Capitol, Top News
From kosu.org – Read the article here: http://kosu.org/2010/11/electronic-textbooks-could-be-future-for-students/
Filed by Michael Cross
Lawmakers are looking into what it would take for the state of Oklahoma to move to electronic textbooks rather than traditional textbooks.
There are currently 659,000 students from Pre-K to 12th grade in Oklahoma, and supporters say cutting textbook funds by $10 a student could save the state more than six million dollars.
The Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education met for more than an hour to listen to experts on digital textbooks.
According to the Association of American Publishers, 70% of learning in common education comes from physical textbooks.
But, Association Lobbyist Jerrod Shouse tells the committee publishers are supportive of digital learning.
“We are ready when you’re ready. So, if Oklahoma wants to be totally digital in five years, we will be there. If you want to have books for the next 100 years, we will provide the books as well. You are the customer as the state, so we’re going to provide you with whatever you need.”
Shouse says many physical textbooks already contain digital integration through compact discs and online support.
The Crescent School District in Logan County currently has all its 350 students from 6th through 12th grade working digitally through take-home laptops.
The school provides training to educators, all assignments are submitted and graded digitally and there’s even podcasting for teachers’ lectures and students’ presentations.
Superintendent Steve Shiever says it’s unclear whether there has been any cost savings as of yet, but he moved the district in this direction because of what he calls real time curriculum.
“No offense to textbook companies, but text books have old information from the time they’re printed, and if you wait five to seven years for new adoption you’ve extended that.”
The Crescent students are allowed to leave the school with their laptops after paying a $70 insurance policy to be held more accountable.
One decision before districts will be what device to use: laptops, net books, tablets or PDAs.
The most popular tablet computer right now is the I-Pad from Apple, and the committee meeting included a representative from the computer company.
Senior Strategic Accounts Manager Eric Dawson says the biggest obstacle to digital learning is conventional wisdom.
“We have to change as leaders, educators and parents the way we’re thinking about delivering content to our children and children of this state. We need to look at it differently.”
The I-Pad weighs just one and a half pounds, costs $500 and, unlike many e-readers, is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Apple is also working with many publishers to include the ability to buy individual chapters of textbooks rather than the entire tome.
Dawson says Apple takes pride in its 300 million education content downloads since April, but is also dedicated to keeping inappropriate content out of the hands of children.
“Apple is very strong, and Steve Jobs has publically said many, many times about restricting pornography and those sort of things on these devices, and we decline apps every single day. There’s 340,000 apps there. There’s over 13,000 that are educationally specific.”
After the meeting, I caught up with the man who called for the interim study.
Representative Don Armes says he wants to encourage the state to start thinking outside the box, even though upcoming budget restraints could make it hard to increase money to schools for devices.
“I think it’s going to be a deal where a school’s going to have to be willing to shift what they’re spending into this new technology. I’m not the guy that can promise more dollars. But I think if there’s a way to do that, I think long term the cost savings will be better.”
Last session, lawmakers passed a bill allowing schools to use textbook money on operational costs.
But, the Faxon Republican says he’s not looking at any specific legislation.
“I just want people to stop and think and let’s see if this will work. And, if it will let’s see about how to maybe help schools do it. And, if it’s shifting textbook money, maybe that’s the way. I don’t know. But, I’ll defer to the education experts. I taught school for 13 years, that doesn’t make me an expert.”
State Superintendent-elect Janet Barresi couldn’t attend the meeting but says she’s certainly not opposed to the idea of electronic text-books.
“It sounds novel, it sounds innovative, it sounds exciting and that is good. But, really at the end of the day we have to assure that this is the best thing for students. This will facilitate learning. And, that it will be cost effective.”
She adds as the mother of two boys, she wants to make sure the technology is able to withstand the treatment by young people.