Should Textbooks Go Digital?

August 13th, 2009, byStaff

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks they should.

When California high school students return to school this month they will have access to free digital science and math textbooks that meet state standards as part of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Digital Textbooks Initiative.

Ten online textbooks meet state standards, and proponents say California school districts will save money by using the state-approved digital books. Critics say that switching to online textbooks will require additional training and resources. The plan is to expand the program to include all grades.

Are digital textbooks a step in the right direction? Share your thoughts.

  • Cora

    Blecch! I can’t stand to read off a computer screen for any length of time. And what about the exposure from the computer itself, the stimulation from the brightness…I say NAY!

  • jason scott

    Yes cause it stops people from killing trees and it expands the kids learning.

  • Jessica

    This seems like a good idea. Using less paper is always beneficial. Now if only they could do this with college courses. I’m tired of paying hundreds of dollars for used books & only being able to sell them back for $30 or less!

  • Gailmarie Ward

    Yes! I think textbooks should be on an eBook like Amazon’s Kindle! Less weight too!

  • Kori

    A few initial reactions: How accessible is this for lower income areas? The students still need access to a reliable computer/computer source. So much “face” time in front of a computer will likely be bad for a child’s vision. Overall, I like the idea for HS, but not younger students (K-8). Are the students tested after reading without any discussion? I am unfamiliar with the “standards.”

  • Shelly

    In a sense it is a great idea to conform to the culture of the high school student population. Additionally, not having textbooks printed would help to save the environment & also relieve the budget. On the flip side, though minimal, technology is not always reliable and “the dog ate my homework” will not be the only excuse for not submitting homework on time.

  • RaeCorley

    Yes this is definately a step in the right direction. Our children must be able to compete in a highly technological society. I think this will enhance the learning experience for audio and visual learners and greatly increase overall proficiency and comprehnsion in subjects that are crucial for success in the 21st century.

  • Zina

    Free digital science and math textbooks are great for students and schools who can afford and have access to technology. I don’t foresee training as being problematic because young people catch on rather quickly.
    Questions : How many high school students will be left behind because they do not have access? Will all school districts participate in the program or just those who successfully collect property taxes (wealthy district)? Can California afford to staff and maintain the system once in place?
    All of our nations students should be given the opportunity to state of the art technology, and cutting edge science and math initiatives.
    Lastly, who will foot the bill and at the expense of whom?
    Just something to consider?

  • Kristen Annastasia

    BRAVO Gov S! This is long overdue, and makes bigger my pride at being Californian!
    Aside from the paper waste, this is the BEST way to give students access to CURRENT information, and allows publishers to update each year with new links, corrections, and scientific advances. I predict this will dramatically increase student interest and motivation in science and technologies. LET’S WATCH OUR TEST SCORES GO UP!

  • Renee / Teachmoore

    As a teacher and parent, I share Kori’s concern above. More and more of students’ learning will be (and already is) taking place in the digital environment. But not everyone has the same level of access to even to the Web. I live and teach in a rural area where many of my students can only get dialup. Not everyone can afford a web plan for their cellphone either. A good step, but could be a step towards widening the digital divide as well as the achievement gap.

  • Karen/JoyfulGifts

    Absolutely! Kids today are computer savy and appear to be more motivated using today’s newest technology.
    Digital textbooks may enhance their learning skills and would be great for the environment!
    Education is extremely important and how it is presented to a child makes the experience of learning more interesting for the children of today!

  • chanhawk

    Our district already implements this; and here I thought Louisiana was behind in the times. We have class sets for in classroom use but to access information at home, the students must have access to a computer. Sometimes this requires that students visit their local public library to access information information. To access the class book, students just need to know the access code. We implement this in most grade levels.

  • Grace

    We have to keep teaching and learning; learn to adapt to what is good for the education of our children. We must provide quality tools that promote learning, exposure, and versatility. Our children should be “know-how” savvy.

  • (anonymous)

    One kindle/digital book, might save a lot of kids from having back problems caused by heavy back-packs. Read recently about the increase in Doctor visits due to the amount of books kids are now carrying.

  • Chitownstu

    Textbooks not only need to be digital, but they also need to be interactive, changable and from multiple perspectives (and in multiple languages). There is no digital divide when you look at the amount of funding there is for technology in Title I (low socio-economic) public schools across the country. The money is there, but the political will (save from the lame duck CA Gov) and the training of teachers, administrators and even textbook companies is desperately needed.
    The time is now to catch the classroom up to the students needs and skill levels. No longer can we say “Johnny (Jane) can’t read.” They can, it’s just how do we define literacy in the 21st century?

  • BLM

    A quote from E-how, I couldn’t say it better. “Teach kids with computers effectively by letting the computer serve as a tool rather than a replacement for human directed education. Explanations and challenges should be given as needed, and online work should be supplemented with books and other learning activities. Avoid letting computers do all the work when it comes to spelling or math. Optimally, turn spell checkers off and avoid the calculator until basic grammar, vocabulary and math skills are mastered.” (by D Porter

  • Michele Earney

    Text books should not be digital. We need to focus on using less energy, not more. The state of California is already suffering economically. Using more electricity will only increase their energy costs.

  • A Ayo

    No, the content of the textbook needs to be improved. We also need to increase critical thinking and writing skills. Kids are addicted to gadgets, we don’t need to feed that habit.

  • Dee

    This would be a good idea the bases of a good Education first is reading and the tools to get there first has to start through knowing how to read. Digital reading will be a step in the right direction on all levels the cost factor should be a step in the right direction. I welcome this change for all schools.

  • K8 Cooke

    Digital textbooks have great possibilities – interactive features, easy copy and paste, immediate updates – however, students need a way to highlight and/or take notes in margins, so the textbook must be coded for that ability and the students/teachers trained to use these capabilities.

  • Len Pellman

    In 2002 I began introducing e-books into the online curriculum of our university’s MBA program. We started with e-books that were accompanied by a stripped-down text-only hardcopy (about 1/3 the page count of a standard textbook) for those who preferred not to read online exclusively. The online version of the text was fully interactive, with links to videos, audio, virtual tours, chapter review quizzes, online highlighting, and online margin notes.
    Once students adapted, which took 3-4 courses, about 2/3 indicated a preference for this system. The current editions use a PDF version of the text in place of the hardcopy. Students can print (on their own paper, at their own expense) selected pages from the PDF if that genuinely helps them learn. Otherwise, they have the fully interactive online version plus a portable PDF as back-up.

Last modified: April 26, 2011 at 11:17 am