Students at Clearwater High School in Pinellas County, Fla., don’t carry backpacks with bulky textbooks anymore: This school year, students traded in their math and English books, science workbook, and several novels for the 10-ounce, 8-inch-by-5-inch electronic reader, Kindle.
If Rebecca Fleck won the lottery for the Highlands County School District in central Florida, she’d probably hand every county student a Kindle, a laptop, or an iPad as well.
While local schools don’t have the money to go that far quite yet, they have brought the digital world into their classrooms in big and small ways—from online links that students use for research, to probes or computer accessories for testing pH levels, temperatures, or levels of dissolved oxygen.
Propelling this change is the understanding that this is a more relevant way to teach to a generation of students who use multimedia in their everyday lives, said Fleck, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
There’s also a new state mandate, which requires Florida schools to make all print textbooks digital in four years. The state Legislature passed it this year, and Gov. Rick Scott signed the measure May 26.
Highlands County has gotten the ball rolling through a pilot program that will make 10th-grade biology next year fully digital. How that goes will shape the school district’s approach to going digital in other subjects.