The Washington Post writes glowingly about an initiative here in the overly-large school district to provide online textbooks for students in middle and high school social studies classes.
A few details the article fails to mention:
The digital books may be cheaper than the paper versions but the publishers are still requiring the system to buy a large number of them before also purchasing the online version.
The interface for the online books is poorly designed, doing little more than replicating the paper version.
The online versions do little to take advantage of the interactivity and flexibility possible in a digital format. Adding the ability to take electronic notes is only a minor improvement.
None of the books will work on the iPad, Kindle or Nook, the e-readers students are most likely to own.
However, I’m not going to complain. Â Online textbooks is one major spark behind our system-wide bring your own device program, as well as motivation for schools buying additional portable computers.
And all those devices can also be used for far more creative and interesting purposes than simply reproducing the same old textbook and digitizing the traditional assignments that go with it.