Feds’ challenge to schools: Embrace digital textbooks

“It’s not only the future, it’s the now. The industry has embraced this, but the difficulty does lie in the fact that schools are not yet fully equipped with the hardware. We hope that they get there soon,” Diskey said.

After the tornado last May destroyed several schools in Joplin, the decision was made essentially to go textbook-free at three sites hosting high school kids from Joplin High School and the Franklin Technology Center. The United Arab Emirates donated money to buy each student a laptop. (For leading the digital textbook initiative, Joplin Superintendent C.J. Huff was named a 2012 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award winner from eSchool News.)

The response from students has been mixed, said Angie Besendorfer, the district’s assistant superintendent. She said the transition has proved difficult for some kids accustomed to a standard routine of answering questions at the end of a chapter, but administrators are pleased with the online learning and hope 8th-graders also will go essentially textbook free.

“It’s a little bit more work on the side of the students, in that they are having to think and problem solve and do things differently, and some of our kids are not so fond of that, whereas other kids like it a lot,” Besendorfer said.

For more news about digital textbooks, see:

iBooks 2 license agreement gets icy reception in higher education

Textbook-free schools share experiences, insights

Many U.S. schools adding iPads, trimming textbooks

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