Monday, January 3, 2011

EC > Bringing Digital Textbooks To The Masses

Bringing Digital Textbooks To The Masses / EContent / January-February 2010 / Vol. 33 Issue 1 / pp. 14-15  /  Michael Baumann

Detroit is, undoubtedly, among the cities hardest hit by the recession. The city's biggest employers have been under siege, and abandoned homes line the streets. Thanks to a $40-million deal with Houghton Mifflin Co., Detroit's public schools are now on the leading edge of a technological movement to replace printed textbooks with computer software. They aren't the only ones.

The contract, which will provide Detroit public school students with Houghton Mifflin's Learning Village software, is one of many similar technology deals being handed out across the country, as more and more school districts replace many functions of textbooks with computers. [snip].

[snip]. K-12 textbooks are big business-those three states accounted for more than $1.1 billion in textbook spending by late 2009 and, in an attempt to reduce costs and increase efficiency, have begun to turn to digital alternatives.

Digital textbooks are cheaper to maintain than their print counterparts for a few reasons. [snip]. With digital textbooks, a school can also replace one out-of-date section without having to buy a whole new book.


Going from print to electronic texts offers obvious advantages in being able to embed links and rich media in schoolbooks, as well as being able to lower costs through greater competition. [snip].

This past year, Texas' state education department called for bids from online textbook providers, including open source options, while California released a list of state-approved digital textbooks for math and science. [snip].


Houghton Mifflin is also working with community organizations such as libraries and churches to make Learning Village-which, in addition to offering digital textbooks, allows students and parents to check grades and access their student files-available on public computers.

Whether or not they are a panacea for America's public education problems, digital textbooks and other educational technologies are gaining traction in the market. [snip].



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