Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Digital textbooks slowly coming into play

States are slowly moving toward the U.S. government's mandate that all K-12 students use digital textbooks by 2017, officials say.

In February, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, revealed the Digital eLearning Playbook, which calls for the implementation of digital textbooks and content in schools, Stateline.org reported Monday.

"It we want American students to be the best prepared to compete in the 21st century economy," Genachowski said, "we can't allow a majority of our students to miss out on the opportunities of digital textbooks."

So far, just Florida and Alabama have taken legislative action when it comes to introducing digital textbooks into the classroom.

In Alabama, legislation was introduced this year that would provide digital textbooks and tablet devices to all high school students. The $100 million project, to be paid for in bonds, was approved in the House Education Policy committee at the end of February, but has yet to be seen by the House.

Last year, Florida passed a measure that requires all schools to spend at least 50 percent of their annual instructional materials budget on digital content by the 2015-16 school year.

Other states have been going in other directions when it comes to digital integration in classrooms, the report said.

In Maine, all middle school students are issued a laptop by the state, with a goal of expanding to high school students as well by 2013.

Washington and Utah have started using online open resource material, utilizing free content already available, as well as creating their own.

In January, Utah said it will begin using "FlexBooks," an open resource program by the CK-12 Foundation that allows teachers to digitally edit and customize learning materials.

"As a local control state that's very important to us," said Tiffany Hall, the state's K-12 literacy coordinator. "The [open] textbook is actually supporting what we do."
This article was originally posted at http://ping.fm/KUt0M

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