Four keys to success with digital textbooks


With certain considerations, schools can move to digital textbooks and tools.

Moving to digital textbooks is easier said than done—it takes months of planning, stakeholder buy-in, and perseverance. A new infographic from OnlineCollege.org pulls data from the Federal Communications Commission’s Digital Textbook Playbook to highlight important aspects of digital textbook implementation.

Each year, school districts spend $7 billion on textbooks, but most textbooks are 7-10 years old before they are replaced.

In a survey, 81 percent of teachers said they think tablets can enhance students’ learning. For example, laptops or tablets can use internet connectivity, interactive and personalized content, learning and video games, applications that encourage collaboration, and instant teacher and student feedback to boost engagement and understanding.

Here are four important needs when moving to digital textbooks:

1. Intensive planning and creating clear goals. Plans should be flexible and include content, infrastructure, maintenance, learning strategies, training requirements, and technical support.

2. Teacher training and involvement. Teachers should help plan the transition and should be involved in its implementation. They also should be encouraged and feel supported in identifying their own needs throughout the process.

(Next page: More keys to success)

3. Collaborative leadership. Strong leadership is the most important and essential part in ensuring a successful transition to digital learning.

4. Commitment to continuous support. The transition to digital textbooks is not guaranteed to be easy or quick. Remaining committed to a vision, and knowing what is essential along the way, will help make the implementation a success.

When moving to digital textbooks, school technology leaders also should consider:

  • The peak demand—when a school’s network will handle the most traffic from teachers and students.
  • Bandwidth costs, needs, and delivery methods.
  • Network security.
  • Connecting classrooms.

School leaders also must consider whether students will bring their own devices, or whether they will receive devices through the school. An IT staff’s ability to maintain student devices, as well as budgets, equity of access, and security, are some of the important aspects of such a decision.

Laura Ascione

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