Monday, April 2, 2012

Digital textbooks coming to K-12 classrooms

iPads are replacing bulky flight manuals in the cockpit. A music library of records, cassettes, and CDs that once filled entire closets can now be stored in your phone. And after many centuries of using paper textbooks in the classroom, Washington state took the first big step towards moving classrooms into the digital age.

House Bill 2337 was signed into law last week by Governor Gregoire. The bill directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop a program designed to get open source digital textbooks in our public schools. Open source materials are vetted, peer-reviewed, and available for free or at very low cost via the internet. All open source materials approved by OSPI will align with the state’s Common Core standards.

The idea was introduced by Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle democrat, who successfully championed a similar effort at the community and technical college level.
Photo credit: Tnvols2

In addition to the $65 million the state spends each year, traditional textbooks are 7-11 years out-of-date. In today’s digital world where we can summon information at a moment’s notice, should our children be learning from textbooks written before the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Digital textbooks provide a solution to expensive and out-of-date traditional textbooks.

“Open source educational materials are the future,” said Carlyle. “They are gaining popularity with school districts all across the nation. They are simple, efficient, easy to use, and dramatically cheaper than proprietary textbooks.”

To read this post in Spanish, click here.