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Are Textbooks Going The Way Of The Dodo Bird?

Are traditional textbooks outdated? Are they convenient? Are they even practical? Will traditional textbooks go the way of the Dodo bird? Will they become extinct?

recent Scholastic survey commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and released in 2010 found few teachers believe traditional textbooks can engage today’s digital natives and prepare them for success. Teachers say they prefer digital and non-digital resources like magazines and books other than textbooks. Only 12 percent of some 40,000 teachers surveyed said textbooks help students achieve, while only 6 percent said textbooks engage their students in learning. (High School Hustle: Overloaded backpacks and outdated textbooks; a better way?)

I know that the above stats are American based, but I don’t think a Canadian survey would produce different results. So what is the alternative?

Open sourced textbooks utilized with the iPad seem to be a much more more engaging and interactive way for students to work with content as exemplified in Apple’s video on the subject. I do not have any first hand experience using these at all; however, I think the potential for student engagement and learning is enormous. Not to mention the potential cost saving and practicality of students not having to log around multiple thick textbooks in a backpack or forgetting them at school when they have homework (I have yet to meet a student who forgets their iPad at school).

To be honest, I am not sure at this point the number of resources that have been made available in this format; however, I do know that some main education publishers such as Pearson and McGraw Hill are already partnering with Apple to create new a “new textbook experience for the iPad“. In reading on the subject I have found a few of our neighbors to the south that have started projects to phase our traditional textbooks, replacing them with digital versions such as California, Utah and Washington. I am currently hoping to find some Canadian schools or divisions who have started utilizing open sourced textbooks. Regardless, I am definitely excited about this concept and am interested in continuing to explore this for the future.


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