Digital textbooks get a boost with new offerings

By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor
March 23rd, 2012

Discovery Education expects to release other subjects and grades levels of Techbooks in the future.

Apple recently made a splash when it unveiled its iBookstore, featuring digital textbooks for high school math and science education from McGraw-Hill and others. Now, Discovery Education has given digital textbooks another jolt with the release of its own high school science offering—and a middle school social studies product as well.

Discovery Education’s new “Techbooks” expand on an instructional delivery model that Discovery launched for K-8 science in 2010. Much more than just digitized versions of static textbooks, the Techbooks include videos, embedded assessments, and other interactive features that leverage the power of the internet, the company says.

With the Techbooks, “we started from scratch with new content, interface, and tools designed to specifically address learning objectives from a digital perspective,” said Kelli Campbell, senior vice president of global product and content strategy for Discovery Education. “Because we didn’t have to build an experience that mirrored a print publication, we were freed from the linear page format, which allowed us to build a platform specifically designed to promote inquiry-based learning. We developed the Techbook platform so that our chosen instructional model guides the path instead of a page.”

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Discovery’s Techbook series is cloud-based, meaning students can access the materials from wherever they have an internet connection; the company says that’s because not all school districts have the funds to give every student his or her own device. The Techbooks are also platform-agnostic to work with whatever hardware a district or student might have—iPads, tablets, mobile devices, laptops, or desktops.

More than videos

Launching in classrooms for the 2012-13 school year, the social studies and high school science Techbooks are inquiry-based and stem from the 5E model of instruction (engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate) used across the platform, Discovery Education said.

Updated with content in real time, the Techbooks give teachers the opportunity to incorporate current issues into their curriculum. The resources also include an assessment component that measures students’ progress and recommends individualized resources.