Would a teacher from a hundred years ago recognize the modern classroom? From the bank of computers to the Promethean board the growing reliance on devices and digital technology in education has permeated classrooms from preschool to university. But one item our time-traveling educator would still recognize is the humble textbook.
However, changes in educational technology alongside developments in teaching practice might be signaling the end of the traditional textbook.
Could the printed textbook as we know it now become obsolete? And would schools welcome this?
An Area to Save Money
One question that should be considered is the school budget and the money which can be saved if textbooks are not really needed in a 21st-century classroom.
With the addition of the internet and all of the various computer devices available, many schools are realizing they would be much better off with a classroom full of collaboration and technology rather than a talkative teacher at a podium with textbooks on students’ desks.
If you aren’t sure how technology can be used effectively in the classroom or would just like other ideas to add to your own, iAchieve offers workshops that can do just that.
A quick unofficial poll with several elementary and high school principals determined that new textbooks cost anywhere from $100 to $200 each. As an example, let’s say elementary grade levels 1st through 4th are due for a new textbook in one of their core subjects. To make this easy, they are replacing their Reading textbooks for those four grades all at once.
If each grade level has 100 students, that means there are 400 students in grades 1-4 that are receiving new textbooks. That means 400 new Reading textbooks will cost the school between $40,000 and $80,000 for just that one core subject. And in another six or seven years, that Reading textbook will be outdated and the whole process will start over again.
Preparing for a 21st Century Education
Textbooks, of course, are merely a supplementation to what is offered in the classroom. Modern teaching strategies often follow an inquiry-based structure which uses textbooks as part of the discovery process but they are only one tool students need to utilize to be successful. Some subjects might reduce textbook reliance more easily than others.
As just an example, instead of using Reading textbooks that need to be replaced every few years in the classroom, purchase timeless novels that can be bought more cheaply and will last through more classroom cycles.
Language Arts textbooks can easily be obsolete as well. There are websites that can help with learning the parts of speech, spelling, and grammar. Plus, with the addition of Google Docs that is provided free to all students, completing writing tasks has never been easier.
History textbooks are often jam-packed with information, but I would wager the students could learn more through researching on the internet and accessing corresponding videos rather than blowing off the dust of an outdated textbook.
Plus, there are online sites that offer lessons in every subject. Here is a great site for Science.
Are digital versions of textbooks the future?
Publishing for the K-12 school market is more than an $8 billion industry. Three companies (McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) own about 85% of the school textbook market. They are like the character Cerberus, the three-headed dog in Greek mythology.
If an administrator does their homework, they can find deals on e-textbooks that can be fifty percent off the printed version of the same textbook, except better. E-textbooks usually have video links, graphics, and text-to-speech capabilities.
Plus they have the ability to highlight words, phrases, and whole pages in the text that could come in handy while studying. And it is available anywhere there is an internet connection!
But shop carefully since not all e-textbooks are less expensive. Many of the main publishing companies charge just as much for an e-textbook as a regular textbook.
You can see this often with books on Kindle. Some books are just as expensive there as they are in the bookstore. Notwithstanding, if the e-textbooks are not offered at a lower price, it’s time to look around and find another publisher that needs your business.
Written by Ryan Crawley
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