Textbook-free schools share experiences, insights

The road to complete textbook independence was not easy.

“The greatest challenge was the completed transition to digital instruction materials, and that was also our greatest opportunity,” said Baker.

He said the program is ever-evolving to meet the needs of today’s students.

“The world has shifted dramatically since we planned our first one-to-one school seven years ago, and the most significant shift is the amount of powerful student devices,” Baker said. “It was relatively rare seven years ago for a student to have a laptop, and there were still a lot of homes that did not have high-speed internet access. Frankly,  smart phones today are more powerful than those first laptops we provided students.”

Because of the proliferation of student-owned devices, Baker plans on transitioning some schools to a mixed-delivery system that will include some school-owned devices for students who need them, but also a “bring your own technology” model in which many devices are supplied by students and parents.

He encourages schools looking to implement one-to-one computing programs to examine equipment for educators as well as students.

“I think [one] of the mistakes that a lot of schools make is that they put the preponderance of their effort onto getting devices in the hands of students, and that certainly is important—but equally important, if not even more important, is to get teachers all of the devices and tools that they need,” Baker said, adding that those devices and tools could include video projectors and other technology.

For more on digital textbooks, see:

Many U.S. schools adding iPads, trimming textbooks

‘TV textbooks’ bring access to low-income Florida students

Custom curriculum publishing on the rise

Who needs a bulky textbook?

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