Digital world growth extends to campus textbooks
by Mary Scott Nabers,
CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Could backpacks become obsolete? It could happen when there is no longer a need for students to carry books home at the end of a school day. Textbooks and curriculum are quickly becoming digitized and hard-cover books are no longer the norm. Students are universally comfortable in a digital world and that is where they learn best. Educators throughout the country are launching initiatives designed to make learning more interactive with digital textbooks, labs and other resources.
At the college level, the movement favors an open-source, digital textbook bank that significantly decreases user costs. The trend is common on campuses of institutions of higher learning. The adoption of digital learning resources has proven to increase efficiency, cut costs, decrease environmental waste and ultimately improve enthusiasm for learning.
The State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) found that digital content is more flexible and cost effective and is more easily tailored to fit the needs of students. The association recommends that states and school districts shift to digital instruction materials in their next textbook adoption cycles. And, they caution that a complete shift to digital textbooks should occur within the next five years.
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation to create a Web site where university core textbooks can be downloaded free. The objective is to allow access to 50 lower division textbooks required by the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems. These books were available by the start of the 2013-2014 academic year.
The state of Florida has announced it will require school districts to spend half of all instructional materials allocations on state-adopted digital materials by 2015. The state legislature has provided guidelines on developing and implementing digital instructional materials. Lawmakers also created pilot programs in certain schools to serve as a model for the rest of the state.
San Diego Unified School District has implemented a program that allows 78,000 teachers and students access to digital content through netbooks and tablets. The initiative has resulted in increased effort, more student engagement and a more enthusiastic approach to lessons and assignments overall from students.
The state eLearning Commission of North Carolina, with support from the State Board of Education and the governor, has recommended a transition to digital learning materials as the primary form of educational supplements in K-12 within the next five years. The state hopes to build a cloud computer infrastructure to support the digital initiatives.
The federal government is also supporting the movement toward digital resources with two initiatives. The National Education Technology Plan recommends the development and use of online electronic resources and The National Broadband Plan suggests that the U.S. Department of Education invest in open licensed and public domain software. Backpacks may become totally useless in the near future.