The same digital revolution that upended the music industry and is transforming TV, movies, and books is slowly working its way into classrooms, reports the Austin American-Statesman—but when it comes to the holy grail of electronic education, the e-textbook, schools haven’t quite arrived at the date when students can stop carrying printed textbooks around. Still, they’re getting there. For this first time, school districts in Texas had the option for the 2010-11 school year to decide what percentage of their textbooks were electronic or printed and could use textbook money to purchase things such as electronic devices or supplemental web-based educational materials. But school districts, lawmakers, educational software developers, and officials in the Texas Education Agency say a lack of ubiquitous internet and computer access for students, weak e-textbook content, and costs to schools and publishers are major obstacles that have to be overcome before printed textbooks are gone for good. Part of the problem with getting electronic textbooks into the hands of students in Texas has been that “e-textbooks” itself is a broad term that, for all its promise, doesn’t really mean anything. “The term ‘e-textbooks’ has been thrown around pretty indiscriminately,” said state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston. “There’s been electronically produced textbooks since the mid-’90s.” Hochberg, who co-authored legislation last year that allows the state to purchase electronic content and distribute it to students, said he believes the state will save money by distributing educational material through “open-source” licenses. The state would purchase electronic content from a publisher once and be given the ability to distribute it as many times as needed to students and teachers, instead of paying for each textbook. If a print version were needed, it could be printed from the electronic version for about $25 for a single copy. But ed-tech directors say issues of access and a lack of truly interactive content is delaying the shift…

Click here for the full story

About the Author:

Maya Prabhu