Is it time to say goodbye to textbooks?

People have been predicting the end of the traditional, paper-based textbook for years. A McKinsey & Company study from 2014 suggested that textbook rentals would cannibalize new-textbook sales by 2017, resulting in a reduction in new-book sales of 5 to 10 percent by 2020. eSchool News recently spoke with Matthew Glotzbach, chief executive officer of Quizlet—the extremely popular site that offers tools for students to make study sets that can be used for flashcards, learning activities, and games—about the future of textbooks.

Q: What’s your take on Bill and Melinda Gates’ 2019 annual letter regarding the point “textbooks are becoming obsolete?”

A: The traditional textbook has been in a state of transformation for some time now, and 2019 marks an important year of acceptance from the education industry and outside influencers who recognize where its path is leading. Those of us in the industry have all heard about the impending “death of the textbook.” We live in an increasingly digital world and students spend a lot of time using technology to connect to people, to be entertained, and to learn. It’s this third piece that we are finally embracing.…Read More

Mapping the Universe of Edtech That Connects

I’m excited to share a tool that my colleagues and I have been working on for the past few years: a market map of what we’re calling Edtech that Connects. We’ve captured a wide range of edtech tools that are bringing new relationships within reach for students. The tool lives—and will be regularly updated—at whoyouknow.org.

When I first joined the Christensen Institute over five years ago we were knee-deep in studying the fast-growing market of tools designed to support blended learning environments. Many consisted of adaptive learning content tools that could support students at different levels in a manner that traditional textbook and lecture-style teaching struggles to do. At the same time, cloud-based productivity tools to help schools organize their staff and streamline their data collection processes were becoming more and more mainstream.

But I had a lurking suspicion that something was missing from that booming edtech market. Beyond our education systems, communications technologies have advanced in ways that radically improved our ability to connect across time and space. Why weren’t there more edtech tools designed to connect students—to new people, supports, and opportunities?…Read More

Mapping the universe of edtech that connects

I’m excited to share a tool that my colleagues and I have been working on for the past few years: a market map of what we’re calling Edtech that Connects. We’ve captured a wide range of edtech tools that are bringing new relationships within reach for students. The tool lives—and will be regularly updated—at whoyouknow.org.

When I first joined the Christensen Institute over five years ago we were knee-deep in studying the fast-growing market of tools designed to support blended learning environments. Many consisted of adaptive learning content tools that could support students at different levels in a manner that traditional textbook and lecture-style teaching struggles to do. At the same time, cloud-based productivity tools to help schools organize their staff and streamline their data collection processes were becoming more and more mainstream.

But I had a lurking suspicion that something was missing from that booming edtech market. Beyond our education systems, communications technologies have advanced in ways that radically improved our ability to connect across time and space. Why weren’t there more edtech tools designed to connect students—to new people, supports, and opportunities?…Read More

5 ways to get started with OER

It has been almost three years since the launch of the United States Department of Education’s #GoOpen movement. If you are late to the #GoOpen party, it is the commitment to expand and accelerate the use of openly licensed educational resources in schools across the country.

The commitment, in a nutshell, is to replace at least one textbook with open educational resources (OER) within one year, share in a community of practice with other school districts, and share the resources created with a Creative Commons license. While this sounds like a novel concept in writing, this movement engages every stakeholder in the P-12 educational ecosystem. And, beyond the chatter and hype of #GoOpen’s launch, there is still lots of work to be done. The work begins with implementation and how schools plan to strategically scale OER.

In the words of Simon Sinek, if you “start with the why” when thinking about #GoOpen, the answer is easy:…Read More

Debunking the myth that good teachers shouldn’t use curriculum aids

Expecting teachers to go it alone hurts school improvement. It’s time to reframe the debate

curriculum-teachersThe myth that good teachers have the Midas touch and therefore don’t need curriculum programs has been around for decades. This myth paints teachers as curricular experts who are best positioned to create instructional plans tailored to particular students. It also reflects the prevalence of low-quality and uninspired textbook series that have dominated the market throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Some packages simply did not have much to offer, while others talked down to teachers, as the oft-used phrase “teacher-proof curriculum” suggests.

The perception that good teachers reject textbooks and design their own curriculum has been a persistent belief of educators over the years. Researchers have long noted unease about using teacher’s guides among many teachers, regardless of whether the curriculum in question was a traditional textbook from the 1980s1, 2 or a more innovative program reflecting the vision outlined in the widely adopted National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards of the 1990s.3, 4

Under the current era of the Common Core State Standards, this myth is playing out in some districts and schools in a different way. Teachers are encouraged to use the new standards as their guide for what to teach and are expected to gather and develop instructional resources to determine how. Curriculum resources of any kind are viewed as unnecessary, redundant to what teachers already do or should be doing.…Read More

Online books let college students earn credit—and cash

Traditional textbooks can cost more than $900 per year, according to national surveys.
Traditional textbooks can cost more than $900 per year, according to national surveys.

Nineteen business majors are trying to sell the idea of free online textbooks to their professors in an internship program that pushes open-content technology designed to counter escalating book costs.

The internships, introduced this year by open textbook provider Flat World Knowledge, let sophomore and junior business students earn college credit and a little spending cash if their sales pitch convinces a professor to use web-based texts that can be reorganized and modified by chapter, sentence, or word.

Students from schools that include New York University, the University of Florida, and the College of Charleston are being tutored via webinars by Flat World Knowledge sales pros and authors of textbooks that are sold on the Flat World web site.…Read More

Future of eReading might not be iPad, but Blio

Blio will allow students to interact with textbooks in full color.
Blio's makers say it will allow students to interact with textbooks in full color.

Despite all the buzz about Apple’s iPad tablet and how it could be useful for reading electronic textbooks, a new software program on the way might hold even more promise for education.

Blio, a free eReader program that is expected to be available in February, reportedly will allow users to read more than a million electronic books on nearly any computer or portable device, with the ability to highlight and annotate text, hear the text read aloud, and more.

Blio was announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and is the brainchild of education technology pioneer Ray Kurzweil, creator of Kurzweil Educational Systems and a range of assistive technology products.…Read More

‘Intelligent’ tutor aids science students online

High school students soon will be able to get help with their chemistry and physics homework from a new online tutor that uses artificial-intelligence technology.

Starting this fall, Holt, Rinehart and Winston (HRW) will offer a subscription to the Quantum Intelligent Tutor with the purchase of its textbooks. The Quantum Intelligent Tutor, developed by Quantum Simulations Inc., is not specific to one textbook publisher, but through HRW, an intelligent, computer-based science tutor will be available to students and teachers for the first time, according to the company.

“Our market research shows that tutorial programs are the No. 1 supplement requested by teachers,” said Ellen M. Standafer, vice president of science product development at HRW, which is part of the Harcourt Education Group.…Read More