Digital textbooks come with their own problems

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Digital textbooks come with their own problems

Postby cheap-textbooks » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:16 pm

The Palm Beach Post takes an interesting look at digital publishing in this editorial.


We agree with the Florida Legislature and the Palm Beach County School District that digital is the future of “print.” That’s why The Post has rolled out versions online, on tablets and on smart phones — with more options coming soon. For schools, the transition to digital textbooks comes with significant benefits but also challenges.

As The Post’s Jason Schultz reported, the Legislature has required that by 2015 schools spend half their textbook budgets on digital offerings, and the Palm Beach district already spends 60 percent. Updating print textbooks has been a costly and time-consuming chore, particularly given the constant revisions to improve Florida’s curriculum. Textbook producers have been only too happy to charge high prices for the updates.

Lugging around the hefty tomes has been a chore of its own; every year chiropractors offer advice on which backpacks — or rolling carts — can best ward off students’ back strain. Additional concerns are forgotten, lost and damaged books.

The digital revolution clears the way for much faster and cheaper updates and corrections. The “books” themselves can include richer content, including instructional videos and supplementary links. A tablet computer containing every textbook the student needs can be carried with the ease that a single copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” used to require.

But not every student has or can afford a tablet. In fact, not every student has Internet access at home. The district will have to ensure access. And it’s not as simple as giving each student — and each teacher — an iPad. Students will lose their iPads. Their tablets will stop working. There will be glitches galore, affecting everything from disks to USB drives to Wi-Fi networks to remote servers. Instructionnd live support will have to be available in multiple languages.

Although one student told The Post she likes preparing school work on computers because “It’s not on paper, so you can’t lose anything,” a reality check would show that computers offer new, high-tech ways to lose work. “The iPad ate my homework” is going to be a popular — and perhaps believable — excuse.

Jac Wilder VerSteeg
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/ ... r-o/nWLSk/

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