Obama administration’s e-textbook push

By Anne Collier

It’s not just a cost-cutting measure, apparently and thankfully. In an effort to get “every US school to accelerate the transition to digital textbooks,” the Obama administration is asking states to “modify the textbook adoption process” so that K-12 schools can use taxpayer funding that used to go paper textbooks to purchase Kindles, iPads, and other devices and the software that goes on them, USATODAY reports. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Education Secretary Arne Duncan say that these kinds of connected devices “help students learn more efficiently and give teachers real-time information on how well kids understand material.” I wholeheartedly agree but would add that it would get 19th-century-style education closer to relevancy to students who have never known life without digital media. According to the article, critics say there are no “magic bullets,” including iPads, but if kids love using iPads (which topped so many holiday wish lists this past season), then maybe learning the core curriculum with them will be more fun for them. So are they criticizing the potential for fun?!

It’s as if Apple planned all this. “Two weeks ago, Apple declared its intention to be at the head of the class, with the unveiling of the iBooks 2 for iPad app and the iBooks textbooks that are the first to exploit the app,” USATODAY reports. [See also “Mobile learning gathering momentum” and this on 1-iPad-per-student programs.]

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