The days of elementary and secondary school students lugging around piles of bloated textbooks may be drawing to a close. As educational institutions across North America consider the applications of new advances in technology, the textbook is being increasingly scrutinized. Heavy, cumbersome and needing constant reissues to keep up with new discoveries and curriculum changes, textbooks are something of an albatross for students, teachers and school districts alike. Tablets, despite the initial investment, are becoming a more attractive alternative to the old system of buying updated textbooks, letting them fall into disrepair and obsoletion before repeating the cycle.
Holy Cross, a private Catholic school in Mendota, Illinois, is poised to launch a new initiative dispensing tablets to its students. The LaSalle News Tribune reported that each Holy Cross student between grades five and eight will be issued their own personal tablet, while younger children will share a device. Unlike consumer models, these tablets are designed specifically for educational purposes. The tablets have no preloaded programs or internet browsers, so students will only have access to the classroom software provided by Holy Cross teachers.
A new way to deliver class material
Through the school’s wireless network, teachers will be able to upload daily lesson plans to a cloud storage server, allowing students to simply download the necessary material and coursework as required. With each student having all the required materials at their fingertips, school officials expect the shift to expedite the teaching process. Once the transition to the cloud has been completed, students will be able to take their tablet home and continue their studies . Students who miss class either due to illness or vacation will have an easier time catching up on coursework, as it will be available to them immediately.
The plan to transition from textbooks to digital media was made in large part to keep up with the changing educational landscape. Hard copy textbooks are becoming phased out by publishers in favor of online material, particularly since it is more affordable to produce and distribute digital books. Holy Cross’s educators also recognized that familiarizing their students with new technology would better prepare them for their eventual transition from academia to the professional world.
Holy Cross is just the latest educational institution to adopt the use of digital media. As more educators recognize the potential for tablets to consolidate learning materials into one source, the movement to phase out textbooks continues to pick up steam. According to a survey conducted by the Association of American Educators in 2011, 58 percent of teachers said they would be in favor of replacing traditional print-based teaching materials with digital media. With its flexibility, large data storage capacity and upgrade potential, tablet hardware is becoming an attractive option for progressive educators across North America.
Should textbooks be phased out of the classroom? Should educators be focused on familiarizing students with new technology? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!