wasting bandwidth since 1999

Breaking the Paper Habit

On The Infinite Thinking Machine, Wes is calling for a moratorium on schools buying textbooks.

The day of the paper-based textbook is over. The era of digital curriculum has dawned, and it is fiscally irresponsible for school district leaders to continue to purchase paper-based curriculum materials in light of the digital curriculum resources now available and continuing to become available via electronic means. Digital, web-based curriculum materials are vastly superior to static, analog/paper based curriculum materials for many reasons.

While Wes makes some great points to support a “digital, web-based curriculum”, this one is most compelling.

Education cannot and will not change in the basic, fundamental ways we need and should want it to change in the twenty-first century as long as textbooks, paper, and pencils continue to be the predominant technologies for student expression and individualized access to content. Teachers can write an assignment on a chalkboard, write it on an overhead projector, or flash it up on a sexy electronic whiteboard, but unless EACH LEARNER in each classroom is empowered with their OWN digital device to not only CONSUME but also CREATE and SHARE their ideas with the world over the web, the predominant learning tasks in our classrooms are unlikely to change much.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly why textbooks and paper and pencil activities will probably be part of the classroom for many years (decades?) to come.

Not trying to be too negative about this but even when computers are added to the mix, there seems to be little, if any, attempt to make major changes to the traditional educational structure around which our schools have been organized for more than half a century.

And the restrictive requirements of NCLB only work to further cement the status of teachers and textbooks as the primary delivery vehicles for information.

textbooks, laptops, school, reform

1 Comment

  1. Dave

    I agree with you. The crossover from paper to digital is inevitable, and the final digital solution will be very nice. The switch period, barring major financial investment, will be long and painful and will do much to dissuade people against the final solution. I personally still can’t believe the companies that market such sub-standard digital “solutions” specifically for school districts. We need to wait for strong solutions instead of locking ourselves in with the first or cheapest.

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