Friday, February 3, 2012

Obama wants all students using digital textbooks - I ask where the $$ are coming from

"Obama administration wants all students using digital textbooks in five years" - headline from the Verge. Read the comments as they are very interesting. 

My reaction: " we don't even have money for the basics, like paper textbooks, computers, lab equipment, paper, teachers!, etc. So where does the money come from for 1:1 computing devices for every student, the digital textbooks (which have to be purchased again every year), support for the devices, replacement devices for damage, loss, and theft, etc." Many of my students don't even have a computer at home, let alone a portable device like a smartphone, laptop or tablet. How are they going to access the digital textbooks without a digital device? Will they really all have a device in 5 years? Paper textbooks offer an option for students and districts without digital resources. 

It's a lofty idea that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Education budgets are being cut left and right and then this. Not sure how this idea can work.

I've already discussed my reaction to Apple's iBooks announcement and how I don't use textbooks with my physics students anyway, but this article got me going again. Are digital textbooks really a worthwhile use of shrinking education budgets? I don't think so. Let's look more at project based learning, free online digital resources and teacher created resources instead. 

What do you think?


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