Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History

In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History. Tamar Lewin. New York Times. August 8, 2009.

Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web. “In five years, I think the majority of students will be using digital textbooks. They can be better than traditional textbooks.”

“We believe that the world is going digital, but the jury’s still out on how this will evolve. We’re agnostic, so we’ll provide digital, we’ll provide print, and we’ll see what our customers want.”

CK-12 Foundation develops free “flexbooks” that can be customized to meet state standards, and added to by teachers. Its physics flexbook, a Web-based, open-content compilation, was introduced in Virginia in March.

“You can use them online, you can download them onto a disk, you can print them, you can customize them, you can embed video. When people get over the mind-set issue, they’ll see that there’s no reason to pay $100 a pop for a textbook, when you can have the content you want free.”

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