I think electronic textbooks are a good thing. With so much learning going digital having textbooks available on e-readers or tablets having them available electronically allow both students and teachers to have access to the texts from anywhere at anytime without all the hassle of lugging large textbooks around.
I was very excited about the electronic textbook news from Apple yesterday (January 19, 2012.) In my opinion, a good science textbook should be up to date. It is easy to update apps and I would hope the same can/would be done for textbooks. No longer will students need to read science information that was true ten years ago, but with new knowledge has changed. I also appreciate how pictures, video, and widgets can be embedded in these textbooks. This will provide a much richer learning environment. I can only imagine the options that will be provided in the form of widgets to enhance textbooks.
Of course, the downside is the cost associated with the textbooks and associated electronic readers. My school and district are still far from converting to electronic textbooks. While I would enjoy having the option in my classroom, students do not have any devices available to read such electronic textbooks on. I guess I must learn to be patient.
If you could request a "widget" to enhance a textbook, what subject would it be used in, and how would the widget work?
I agree Glen. I love the expediency with which the text can be upgraded, but i would want the file size to be manageable. With the limited memory of tablets and e-readers, a 1gig file just takes up to large a percentage of the memory space!
I do wonder though about the longevity of e-readers and tablets. How many years of use will they give before they are obsolete? If the devices have to be replaced every couple years just to keep up, the costs would become insurmountable.
Your concern about file size is well placed. I checked the file size of the Biology text currently available. It is about 2.5 GB! Most devices will not store too many of this size file.
I appreciate your reminder about longevity of these e-readers. While the "coolness" of electronic textbooks is incredible, it is financially unthinkable to purchase replacements every 2-3 years.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts ...
I agree Julia and I believe anyone who knows a high school student should realize their backpacks are very heavy. These heavy bags are creating serious back problems for our students. I would rather have them carry around a small eReader with access to all their textbooks. As a parent I would be willing to provide my child with an eReader and avoid costly visits to the doctor for back issues.
My district is currently a "no" on bring your own devices. I see a challenge with bring your own devices and the new iBooks Electronic textbooks. I do not know well the format of these Electronic textbooks will work with all devices. I would be interested in finding this out...
A lot of the most interesting textbooks--those that aren't simply a digital fascmile of the print version--seem to be being developed for a specific tablet platform. Inkling, for example, has some pretty amazing first-year college science titles, but it's currently only for iPad. I talked with their CEO earlier this week, and he says they are planning to offer versions for other platforms "sometime soon." There are some limited open standards like ePub and IMS Common Cartridge, but the amount of interactivity they support, and the degree that software vendors actually support them, is still pretty limited. I would think that will change soon.
The bigger challenge seems like the textbook adoption process. Can it accomodate the pace of innovation in content and features that digital textbooks offer? Do folks think initiatives like Apple's will help change that?
As I contemplated my thoughts on this topic I immediately thought of my students complaining about the size of their lit books and thought how excited they would be to have their texts all downloaded to an e-reader type device. I can see it cutting down on the "I left my book in my locker excuse", but if you lost your device, you will have lost all your textbooks.
Obama Administration's Challenge To Schools: Embrace Digital Textbooks Within 5 Years
Very interesting article.Fastforward 5 years...
I appreciate the challenge that has been proposed. I'm slightly concerned on where funding may be "shifted" to provide these digital textbooks. (I'm worried some elected officials would say the digital textbooks can be purchased by reducing the number of teachers.) What I have seen of Digital Textbooks so far has me VERY excited. I'm worried that some publishers may just turn their texts into an electronic version and not provide a true "digital learning textbook experience." Many students have access to .pdf titles that are NOT used because they are just electronic print copies of material. How can we help ensure digital textbooks enrich the learning process?
As with any topic regarding education, this too, is a double edged sword. I do like the idea that books may go entirely to electronic. That is what today's world is going toward. At my school district, the weight of the backpack has had to be addressed. With electronic textbooks, this issue would not an issue at all.
On the other hand, how would the issue of tablets be addressed? Would there be a deposit/contract that must be paid/signed by parents? Have other schools used electronic textbooks? What happens with students who do not have the ability to purchase?
Lots of questions involved.
Kaysie, great points. I have not yet purchased a tablet, as I am "old school, and still like to turn the pages and actually hold a book. However, my concern is that as the tablets are upgraded and those newer versions come out, at what point does that hinder students from actually reading what they have read in the past? Why not a PDF file? One doesn't have to print the PDF, just read it on the tablet or laptop. What about BYOD? Some districts are starting to see the positives in that, but many still don't want the liability of having someone else's devices on THEIR network.
Does your district have a BYOD policy? If not, has that discussion started?
I've read "electronic textbooks" that were similar to Kindle books. You read one page at a time and saw pictures (either in color or black and white.) I have also read texts that were provided in .pdf format. There is no real difference in the readability or interest level of these formats.
I had the opportunity to download and read the first two chapters of E.O. Wilson's Life on Earth. This free iBook format text breaks all the rules with other electronic textbooks or .pdf files. I expected the text to use pictures similarly to other electronic publications. I was not surprised with these results. My enthusiasm with this book happened when I realized how videos had been embedded. I do not know how a video can be embedded in any electronic textbook or .pdf file. This addition of video opens up the world of textbooks in my opinion.
E.O. Wilson's Life on Earth is the closest I've seen to meeting the expectations of Joe's Non-Netbook.
Glen, I was not aware that you could actually embed video into the book. I had seen the YouTube video before, but seeing it again made me start thinking that maybe it's time for me to make the jump. If you can embed a video, why not a link to a site that would give you more information or the ability to do a simulation of some type. Interesting thought.
Has your district started using the electronic textbooks yet? How did the students respond to them if you have?
With the new IBooks Authoring app (for Macs only I think), videos can easily be embedded in the book. I envision embedding links & perhaps widgets too. How awesome would it be to have a weather unit that included the current day's weather for your location.
What other widgets would you like to see included in a textbook?
My district only has a few "pilot iPad classes" so far. Teachers using the tool love it, as do their students. The biggest problem has been teachers not having any training before using the tool. Most teachers wished they had training on how to use the iPad to support instruction.
Glen, as a former music teacher, I would love to see an app that would literally bring a keyboard into the classroom for each student. Then, when we are learning basic piano keyboard or working with intervals, each child would have access to their own. Then, when they create their own music, hopefully they would be able to save it as well. Imagine the young, budding composers we could help along.
I'm not sure if the GarageBand app includes a keyboard. I know the computer app does.
I tried the Desmos Calculator on an iPad and it ran great! This online app was designed as a Flash app, but has been changed to html5.http://www.abettercalculator.com/c
wow, nice ideas---i hadn't seen this before either.
we are a no byod---but, i see the benefits and drawbacks of both. i've had some experience with people brining their own items and wanting everyone else to troubleshoot as to why they are not working well with the school network. using district equipment, for me, just makes it all easier.
i do think there can be great benefit with ebooks--less to carry, less to coordinate. however, i, too, do like having the book...and turning the pages. still, i do think we are headed this way, and i do believe that the glitches will work out as time goes.
I also agree that the internet connection will be the textbook of choice. I do believe that by having the textbook on a kindlefire or other similar electronic device would be of great importance.
Knowing that my textbooks are all on one device. WOW! I can still remember carrying that big back pack filled with my textbooks. When I finally got home, my back hurt so much, I would just lie down. It created some back issues that now have become part of my life, unfortunately. I just wish that I would have had the option of having my texts on a kindle or such. No worry about the size of the text either. That can now be adjusted for each person's likes and needs. We've come so far in not a great amount of time. What will texts be in just 5 to 6 years? I don't even think any of us can even imagine!
This is one of my favorite videos! I show it to my teachers to help them realize that there is more out there than what is included in a textbook. It really hits home how dated printed materials used in school become. Thanks for sharing it - you saved me the time of finding the link myself!
Great questions about policy and how to ensure each student has access to the technology. I'm part of an eMINTS classroom right now, and I don't feel the kids are very responsible with the laptops we have. They think they're "junk" and aren't always so gentle. I think there should be some sort of policy or check-out policy with a deposit maybe. Those students who can't afford the deposit might apply for a scholarship or something along those lines????
As an eMINTS teacher, I train my students on appropriate laptop use. The biggest problem I've had in 4 years required replacing hard drives on three computers. A peer manages his eMINTS laptops differently. He usually has four laptops in for repair every semester.
IMHO, help students learn responsibility, then allow these students to demonstrate responsibility.
I agree with the cost issue. I spoke with my principal yesterday on this topic. He said most of the cost of an iPAD could be covered by going paperless and using copying monies to pay for iPADs. I was surprised at this comment - but excited to hear it. However, until I see a tablet in every student's hands, I may not be a believer.
The goal for electronic textbooks is not to get rid of the textbook completely but to provide students with access to accurate information quickly and efficiently. When we have finally mastered the skill of problem based student centered instruction where the teacher is truly the facilitator, the need will be even greater to place the electronic textbook in their hands. Those hard copy text books will always be available for those of us who would prefer reading a good hard copy book from time to time.
Your point is well taken. I rarely use a textbook in my classroom. I much prefer current science knowledge. I, however, have many parents that insist their child "needs a textbook." (Reasons for the need vary - but the request is STRONGLY worded.) I'm thinking electronic textbooks might be written in a way to support these parents and engage students in learning. I guess time will tell.
With our last adoption, we did receive online supplements for the textbooks, but, as you mention, some parents do ask for textbooks (even with online resources available). For math, I send the consumable workbook that came with the adoption and I check out individual copies of the textbook per request.
I spoke with a High School teacher who has electronic textbooks available for his classroom. He does not have any students who utilize the electronic textbooks. (By the way, he said he only has ONE student who admitted to having read as much as a chapter from the printed - or electronic textbook.) How can we encourage our secondary students to read?
I think they are going to read what they want to read, and are more likely to read if they aren't told to read. For many, the bulk of the reading will be from websites they visit, including Facebook, FunnyJunk, and content specific sites (such as auto sites).
The Khan Academy became very popular on its own (users happening upon the instructional videos and finding them very helfpful and enjoyable) and is now being used by homeschools and even some public schools. I wonder if the videos will be as popular if students are told to view them. It does seem that the Khan videos could be a viable alternative to traditional and electronic textbooks. (Of course, there's not much reading that needs to be done...)
Books have been the cornerstone of our society for centuries, especially after the invention of the printing press — perhaps the most important invention in human history. Digital technology has begun to radically change the role of books in our society though. The e-book has exploded in popularity, especially since the launch of the Amazon Kindle. The e-book’s portability (it takes up no space, can be read on multiple devices) has helped it gain momentum. The ability to interact with e-books digitally (e.g. digital notes, bookmarks, zoom) has even made hardcovers and paperbacks obsolete for some.
But the problem is will our people sitting to make policies have no idea what is all this, They have jsut digested the computer and it will take anothe r5 years to dissemenate what we want today
Speaking from a parent-who-has-a-child-in-college point of view I much prefer the COST of ebooks. Last semester I spent $400+ dollars on textbooks and got a whopping $180 back. UGH!!!
From a teaching point of view I much prefer ebooks for reasons already mentioned - cost, convenience and up to date information. My son, a high school freshman, relies on the Internet for all of his research becuase it is up to date. I know the cost of e-readers will be an issue for schools, but I would think, in the long run, it will be cheaper than buying textbooks every 3 years, not to mention all of the money spent on workbooks.
The last time I was allowed to purchase new science textbooks, my old books were 10 years old. Science seems to change more than ever 10 years. I envision eBooks could provide more updated science materials than such old textbooks. Now ... the challenge is to find and get funding approved for such a purpose. Any suggestions on how I can persuade my principal (I think he's on my side), technology director, school district board, and legislators to get such a project going? I'd like to help get this snowball growing.
Clay County in North Carolina, is considering teaching Chemistry next year with the iPad and an electronic textbook. It was presented to the board for approval. The board is concerned about the cost of maintaining it. Click on the link below to read further.
Students who have their own devices would probably be more interested in making sure the equipment is well taken care of. I have noticed an increased strain on our infrastructure in the past few weeks. Based on my observations of student devices at lunch, I wonder how much the "slow down" I have observed is based on student devices.
What might I recommend to our district's IT department so we can be more prepared for the upcoming Tidal Wave of student devices?
The article points out several items that I also have been concerned about. Who pays for the devices (sure the textbooks are cheaper - but not if you factor in the cost of an iPad.) There are other platforms that allow one to read electronic textbooks - IMHO none of them have the capability found on the iPad. Perhaps more choices will meet this excellent standard in the future. I've read several ebooks on multiple platforms and none are as engaging as iBooks with video and pictures. Having formative assessments built into the book (giving student feedback) is also a very positive aspect of these books. The cost is still something to be considered.
I spoke yesterday with a High School teacher who polled his students about reading their printed textbooks. Only ONE student had read a single chapter in the textbook. Most students had not read a full page (yes, we are in the second semester of the year.) Will an electronic textbook automatically get these students to want to read and prepare for class? I wonder if the ability to switch to Facebook, Twitter, IM, YouTube, etc. will detract from the desire to read. Perhaps a good question is "How can we encourage and engage students in becomming active readers?"
If the electronic textbooks can be made cheap enough and use a PDF format such that any device can download and browse through them then they will succeed on a large scale, else they will be used only by a select few.
We are a non-profit affilated to the Intel Classmate PC program and our applications which allow the creation of PDF e-books has been downloaded on most intel classmate PC's distributed in the developing world.
www.eyepuzzles.net/Eye Puzzle Manual.pdf
as an educational technology teacher, I encourage my students to use modern technology as part of our disucssion , like the use of i pads ,laptop lcd and the like.The biggest problem is the budget esp for it's maintenance.
If students have electronic notebook , it's an advantages for them to have an easy access to communication. They have to be responsible that this electronic textbooks are use for proper education in school. But someitmes this is an elitest gadgets in our country.
Electronic textbooks are good at large extend for the students. its saves the times and sharing their views and information with their friends.u really get the information from the e. book in a second. its brings you a lots of material in a mean time while textbooks are time consuming rather than e. books.
Just came across an article which addresses this topic in Education Week. Mr. Tomassini's article pulls together various pros/cons of moving to digital, especially if it's done just with a perspective of replacing textbooks.
Tomassini, Jason. "Educators Weigh E-Testbook Cost Comparisons." Education Week. 09 05 2012: n. page. Print. <http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/09/30etextbooks_ep.h31.html?tkn=SSCF+41Ryc1za/H1ikb/8vNvsTfjmQbK9vsu&cmp=clp-sb-teacher>.
I agree with some points made by other posts about electronic books. Yes, they will reduce the excuses of carrying books. They are becoming more available and with the right technology, you can take notes on the screen. I think that for some districts, the cons outweigh the pros.
The reality for many districts like the one I teach in (Oakland,CA) is that technology like that is not readily available to our students. We still have the big box looking computers, far from a touchscreen.I cannot expect them to read and take notes off of them. Not only that, but students are more inclined to open up tabs to social networking sites while on the computer. Anohter concern is that many of our students travel over 40 minutes to and from school on public transportation and carrying around expensive technology like the kindle and ipad is like wearing a shirt that says" ROB ME!" This has happened to some students. some like the idea of ebooks on kindle but they do not want to take that risk. they prefer books that they can write notes in , highlight and have access to at anytime.
I do send out electronic versions of the chapter readings, but it is there in case they choose not to carry their book home. After surveying the class, most students still enjoy reading it from paper than from the screen.
So far an interesting discussion. I teach in a district that went 1-1 a year ago. While I love having the technology for use in the classroom, I am having to police the students more. Sometimes I feel that instead of teaching I have become the technology police. Constantly making sure that students are where they need to be instead of where they want to be.
Unless we could get e-readers that would not be able to connect to the internet, would not be able to play games, would not have social apps on them etc., I am not sure that I would want to use them. A few of our classes have gone to the online textbook and one of the biggest problems is the students quickly swiping to a different screen to play games on instead of reading.
I think it will save school systems money by not having to continually buy more and more textbooks and reading programs. But I agree with Colleen in that as our kids are so tech-savvy, they know how to get to websites quickly when they are supposed to be staying on task. It is hard to monitor everyone when everyone has their own internet-ready device.
Juan, while I do agree that, on the whole, electronic textbooks are a good idea. My only concern is the cost of the equipment and the IT staff it may take to keep the technology working properly. A couple of questions come to mind. First, will the districts supply the hardware? If not, where will it come from? Second, if the "books" are district supplied, will they only be used on campus or will the students be able to take them home. If so, what types of filters, etc will be needed?
As with anything that is new, an up-front cost is always involved.
Does your district use them or are you beginning to look at them? What concerns, if any, do you have?
The biggest need for textbooks in elementary and middle school are for parents who want something physical to hold on to and refer to as they keep abreast of what their children are studying in school. Otherwise, I think the internet is the textbook of choice. For upper grades, perhaps textbooks are still important (in which case, I would prefer e-texts, which can be updated much more readily).
I agree with Neil that maintenance is an issue (I don't know how much more up-front costs would be compared with standard text-book up-front costs would be; remember, standard textbooks can be outdated pretty quickly).