Discovery Education offering schools free digital textbooks

Besides boosting student engagement, Carvalho said a shift to digital learning is the only way to provide 24/7 access to learning. Digital learning also provides the means for both acceleration and remediation, and personalization and differentiation for every child. Students can also take responsibility for their own learning outside of school hours, instilling a sense of ownership and inciting wonderment.

In Miami-Dade, Carvalho said he knew that for every dollar the district spent, the government would spend 10 dollars because of the socio-economic conditions of the area. However, that still wasn’t be enough to get every school high-speed internet access.

“We went to the community and asked for their support. By going to the community we raised 7 million dollars in 60 days. With that initial investment we set up internet and digital resources in some of our schools.” But it didn’t end there.

“The best marketing is through results,” said Carvalho. “With our initial investment we showed the community data on how digital learning affected our schools: with higher achievement levels and higher graduation rates. That year the community voted on a measure that would provide an additional $1.2 billion for schools with $120 million of that going specifically to technology.”

He concluded: “A lot of people say that true reform is slow and steady and this speed will help ensure success. That’s wrong. School reform needs to be swift, pervasive, and ubiquitous, before we lose more students–and that can only happen through digital empowerment.”

Carvalho said one of the biggest challenges, besides funding, in making the digital shift is due to textbook publishers that work with states to set mandates for cyclical buying patterns for print textbooks, as well as mandating that if digital textbooks are used, print must also be purchased.

“Price fixing and platform-fixing also need to disappear,” he said. “These things are anti-American.”

(Next page: Free Discovery Techbooks)

Meris Stansbury

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