The days of lugging around heavy backpacks may be on their way out as more schools consider going all digital. The expense of making the switch to digital textbooks has held a lot of schools back, but one school in White Plains, NY has made it mandatory for all students to go all-digital and has lightened their loads considerably.
Jim Fitzgerald of the Associated Press reports about Archbishop Stepinac High School that has all of their students carrying around light weight tablets and lap tops rather than endless stacks of books. Though students at the all-boys school are required to supply their own tablets or lap tops, the cost of textbooks has gone down dramatically from an average of $600 for print textbooks to about $150 for the digital versions.
Frank Portanova, vice principal at Stepinac, explains how making the switch has improved the everyday life of his students. He says, “We went to digital because it makes for better learning.” He adds, “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 digital books also offer features like added videos and practice essays.
The digital textbooks may also be encouraging kids who grew up in a tech savvy world to get more involved in their homework. Portanova explains how their school has seen academic improvement since making the switch and the amount of students on academic probation has “shrunk substantially, which I really attribute to this digital textbook library.”
Though students may see a cost drop from going digital, schools have been reluctant to make the change due to the initial investment in the infrastructure. Stepinac had to invest $1 million, which included increased bandwidth, just to get things started.
What do you think of schools making the switch to all-digital textbooks?
Would you prefer your child’s school to go all-digital?
I also agree on a mix of both. Some of my teachers give us a textbook for our lockers but a digital one for home and I can't tell you how amazing the difference can be. Also, I know this varies between schools, but more time between periods to actually visit lockers would be nice
No. Need a mix of both. Also what about power consumption, dropped and broken equipment, cheating, and kids with vision problems. Flip side, the vision, muscle strain it produces with long hours reading a screen. The brain and eye also tracks differently on a screen vs paper text. Does it change comprehension?
Such an interesting topic to me...I work as an educator in a lower elementary school. We have gradually been introducing digital at the high school level. At this point, "real" books are still being used, but I believe that the thought of replacing with digital books is probably going to happen. I am not opposed to digital, but I do think that the warmth of holding an actual book should not go away completely. The younger students today do not always have an adult sitting with them at the end of the day, holding a book and reading to them. I may be "old school" because as a parent, I believe that when I read to my own children, they benefited from that. I think that when someone young is given a digital book to read, there is still something missing. That human connection we all need. Plus, it is really satisfying to close the book at the end, and reflect on the reading.