October 9, 2011

NOTHING COSTS MORE THAN IT USED TO:

Online textbooks moving into Washington area schools (Emma Brown, 10/02/11, Washington Post)

Stevens's students -- their backpacks liberated from a 5.6-pound, 1,052-page brick of a book -- say it's simply a relief.

"You don't have to take it from home to school and back," said one ponytailed 12-year-old. If all of her classes went digital, she said, "my arms and back would be happy."

That vision is not too far off.

The system will adopt new math, language arts and science textbooks over the next few years. Within five years, Assistant Superintendent Peter Noonan predicts, digital will overtake print in county schools, and students will travel to class not with a bulging backpack but with a single laptop -- or netbook or tablet -- that serves as a portal to textbooks and other digital resources.

"Many of our kids -- if not all of our kids -- are coming to us as digital natives," Noonan said. "We should really allow our students to learn the way they live outside of school."

The online books are generally cheaper than their hard-copy cousins and look similar, but they've been souped up with interactive maps and links to primary sources and History Channel video clips.

Unlike printed books, which the system purchases about every six years, the online versions can be updated regularly to correct errors and reflect current events. Students can take notes in the margins, highlight important ideas and prompt the computer to read passages aloud. 

Posted by at October 9, 2011 8:26 AM
  

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