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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

E-Textbooks: "They Always Take Longer Than You Think" -- Pooh

That's a quote from Winnie the Pooh as he plays "pooh sticks" with his friends, a game in which you throw sticks off a bridge into a stream on one side and run to the other side to watch them come out.

Today, in the New York Times, I read about a school district that uses digital resources to the exclusion of paper ones:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/19/education/19textbooks.html

If you look back through this blog, you can see that it began pretty much at the same time as the original iPad came out in February of 2010. The Kindle had already been out for a year.

Two years later, I'm still seeing a lot of paper. At Episcopal, the usual pattern is that we still get the bound paper book but we also get access to online resources. The resources are not downloads; they are not like kindle books. So you must be connected to the internet all the time to access them. The teacher gets a master account and sets up accounts for all the kids to access the materials. Kids leave their paper books at home, study with them, mark them up, and use the online resources both at home and everywhere else.

I think it is just too scary for the multi-billion dollar educational textbook publishing complex to give up on a tangible product that they can charge serious money for in exchange for a flimsy contract over digital intellectual property that can easily be ripped off.

And yet, in Munster, Indiana, they are going all digital, with lots of problems, complaints and resistance.

As we continue looking at a one-to-one laptop program at Episcopal, having digital resources available in class and at home is a significant benefit, one that weighs heavily in our deliberations. Unlike the first wave of e-books, this generation is not going away any time soon. It's just taking longer than you'd think it would.

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