More Texas school districts consider switching to online textbooks

Texas could help lead a textbook transformation if Gov. Rick Perry’s recent proposal to abandon traditional texts in favor of online versions takes hold, reports the Dallas Morning News. Electronic textbooks are imperative, advocates say, because they offer inexpensive, interactive lessons that engage today’s tech-savvy students and keep content fresh. Opponents worry that more free-flowing material will affect quality and remain unavailable to poorer students without computers. Perry already has support in the Legislature, which passed two bills last year increasing schools’ access to digital content. But the process won’t happen with the click of a mouse, warn educators, who might be the faction that needs the most convincing. “Some of the headaches that come with computers won’t be any cheaper than traditional textbooks,” said Gail Lowe, the state Board of Education chairwoman. “You know what a drain the maintenance of hardware is. It’s difficult to ensure every district is able to supply the same [technological] support” and access, she says. The new state laws grant the commissioner of education the authority to select a list of electronic textbooks for districts, including open content—texts that can be downloaded free of charge online. The laws also allow districts to use their textbook funds to buy electronic material and devices such as netbook computers that can access it. That means the state board will have less control of the content…

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