Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Electronic textbooks

One significant barrier to adopting an all-electronic curriculum is the lack of support and resources provided by the textbook companies.  I know, why would a textbook company provide online resources when their money really comes from book sales?  The fact is, they need to find a way to provide their same textbooks in an electronic format as well as add new multimedia features while still earning enough money to stay in business.  They can do this.  We know this.  Newspapers, magazines, books, movies and music are all available online as well as in physical format, and those industries are finding a way to survive and in some cases even make more money than ever.  The textbook companies fell behind the times, but the companies that make the transition first will be in better shape long-term than the others.

As a member of a large school district, my interest is in our 13,000 students and not in the profit margin of the textbook companies.  I want the best resources for the lowest prices possible.  When the textbook companies are ready to produce high-quality electronic resources then we will be ready to evaluate them and consider them for implementation.  We're finally starting to see some companies ready to make the shift; McGraw-Hill, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, and Kaplan have all signed agreements to deliver their textbooks in the iPad tablet format.  We haven't seen price points, and we don't know if it will be a straight adaptation of if they will take advantage of the multimedia capabilities of a computer-like device.  There's a lot we don't know, but we do know that publishers are finally taking the digital age seriously.

To read more about the iPad story click the following link:
(This tip comes courtesy of Scott Weidig at SHS)