Readers: Digital textbook implementation just a dream

 “Our excellent RESA tech staff is struggling to keep service up and going at present under current demands. In average Michigan counties, this initiative would cost millions of dollars to upgrade infrastructure (increasing broadband and firewall securities) in addition to hiring enough staff to support the increases to all aspect of the system.  If this comes to the locals as yet another unfunded mandate, it will not be possible—but it is fun to dream!” —Matt Drake, principal, Capac Middle School, Capac Virtual Education Program director

No funding, no digital texts

“I do agree that we should go digital, but where are the funds going to come from to ensure that all students have access to the digital format at school and home? I work in a Title I building where I have one student computer for 26 students and a SMART Board. As well, many of our students do not have access to the internet at home. An answer might be, go to the library to do your work. [But many students] don’t have a means of transportation. Take a bus to get to the library. Again, they don’t have the financial means to spend on a bus ticket. I’m truly interested in how to make this happen, but as we can see in our large district, we have … groups of ‘haves’ [and] ‘have nots,’ and going digital will take huge financial obligations which, at this time, our district does not have. … I’m more interested in how this will be accomplished throughout our nation in an equitable fashion.” —Mrs. Dorsey

“Many districts are struggling to balance budgets in this difficult economy. Budget cuts and increased service costs make this more challenging each year. In order to begin to make the move to digital textbooks, schools will need to purchase and maintain an eReader for every student. Districts will then need to make textbook purchases for every subject taught to each student. Further complicating the move is the fact that most textbook publishers charge a yearly per-license fee for continued use. These expenses are a daunting challenge for any district. For urban districts, the cost makes this move impossible. As a result, the digital divide will grow even larger without the financial support necessary to make this move a reality. Instead of purchasing all of the consultants hired to support Race To The Top initiatives, how about putting these funds toward worthwhile improvements such as this? Wouldn’t it make sense to provide teachers with the tools to effectively prepare their students for the future while we evaluate how well they do so?” —Elaine Zagrodny , grade 3 teacher, Citizen’s Memorial Elementary School, Woonsocket Education Department

What about students with disabilities?

“So, how do teachers assist in the rapid development of student maturity? Have there been any new developments in funding for this? What about the issue of gravitational pull? Kids can be clumsy. If these textbooks are online and the wireless network fails, technology then begins to prove inefficiency. What about districts that have a high population of students with disabilities?” —wallace

All texts are going out of style

“It seems so obvious to me: If a school system or selected grades are ensuring students could have access to eBooks, they should optimize the learning by using no textbooks. Have the students identify, evaluate, and organize information from found sources, leading to effective learning!” —jcbjr

Meris Stansbury

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