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FCC urges tech industry to reinvent textbooks, teaching

By Jason Shueh, Government Technology
January 15th, 2015

Federal agency voices support for tech industry to help create engaging and innovative teaching material

digital-textbooksOn the heels of its Dec. 19 decision to raise internet connectivity funding for schools by $1.5 billion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urged Silicon Valley to couple funding with innovative educational material.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel spoke to the audience of tech entrepreneurs at Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters on Jan. 8, highlighting the FCC’s recent efforts and encouraging the digital disruption within teaching and the textbook industry. The event was hosted by the tech advocacy group CALinnovates.

“In the rest of the world, we have an infinite array of digital tools to change our civic and commercial lives. Yet somehow we’ve put up some barriers at the school doors,” Rosenworcel said. “It’s time we started inviting them in and wrestling with them and doing some good things.”

Rosenworcel described the textbook industry as “unimaginative,” and as a segment of suppliers ripe for change. As a market estimated at $17 billion and with price increases in the last decade at 800 percent, Rosenworcel said the industry’s services burden educators and students alike–average school districts only able to afford textbook purchases every seven to 10 years.

(Next page: Digital textbooks and their potential)