Read this…then let’s discuss.

Okay. Digital textbooks. My favorite quotes:

“But the lost weight and a book bill that dropped from $600 to $150 were not the main reasons the all-boys Roman Catholic school north of New York City has gone all-in on the growing trend of digital textbooks.

Except for books on religion, all the texts the school uses are part of a digital bookshelf kept on an Internet cloud.

“We went to digital because it makes for better learning,” says Frank Portanova, vice principal at Stepinac. “This is the way kids learn today. And the online content is a lot richer. You’ve got assessments, you’ve got virtual labs, you’ve got blogging.”

The emphasis on the points is mine. Except the last one. Looks like (to me) they went “all in” because mom n dad are PAYING for Junior and the SCHOOL ain’t doing well in the “assessments” category.

That is a cautionary note: Throwing digital media on a problem creates a issue AND a broken iPad.


More quotes:

“All the books are available to all the students, so a junior can look back at the freshman algebra book to review a concept. Students can click to find every reference to “osmosis,” say, in all the books. The school’s technology director, Patricia Murphy, says the textbooks have been updated three times this semester alone.”

Now, this may make it harder to teach, because the development of a lesson plan is based on the info in the book. So what to do? Rolling lesson plans? I have no idea.

More quotes:

“Lisa Alfasi of New Jersey-based Pearson Education Inc., publisher of the digital library, says Stepinac is the only school in the country, regardless of publisher, that arranged access to all books for all students.”

Pearson is know to be, well, less than stellar concerning publishing items (please do your own Google Search on it…you’ll find it, I’m sure.)

“At Stepinac, where tuition is $9,000 a year, the boys buy their own tablet or laptop. And the transition from paper to digital has hardly been noticeable for a student body of 700 that has grown up with Google and YouTube.”

Okay, if mommy and daddy can afford $9K, the BYOD model works. This may not be so much in some public schools. However, most colleges do this, and it works nicely. I’m slowly becoming a BYOD nerd. However, there has to be a honkingly large firewall in place to protect the others.

“Freshman Michael Bilotta says he is particularly fond of a feature that allows the digital books to read themselves out loud. “So when you’re tired, on the bus or something, you can just put earphones on and hear the lesson.””

Albeit a lazy method, they could read it and then listen. Not shabby.

You were waitng for the hurdle, weren’t you? The one that goes from “bump” to “El Capitan” in a blink…you waited…you got it!

“Going digital is not inexpensive. Stepinac had to invest $1 million in infrastructure, including increased bandwidth. The expense has been a barrier in getting most multischool public districts to make the all-digital leap.”

And given most public schools have crappy Internet Service, and most are already exceeding their finance cap (and have to put plans in place to reign in spending)..this could be the killer.Would you justify a raise in your taxes to support higher bandwidth for Junior?
(Shameless caveat: I live in NJ….if they tax us any further, I’ll have a Nexus 7 and brown rice for dinner….)

Minor last hurdle:

“It’s all great,” said junior Joseph Terrigno. “As long as the Wi-Fi doesn’t go down.”

If a school system is “sharing” a tech between schools, you could (theoretically) shut down a half a day of learning if you lose network access. Schools need to get with it and get GOOD TECHS, not SHARED TECHS. You need someone on site all day to do this. Don’t skimp, or you lose two periods.


Love to hear everyones’ comments!