Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Digital Textbooks - Initiatives and Directions

A number of US States and school districts have begun the move toward digital textbooks - in Toronto, Canada, this is still a pretty foreign concept but it would be great to explore.

California, West Virginia, and Georgia are some of the States which have initiated the process of moving toward a digital textbook reality for classrooms.

In Georgia a new Bill was approved by State senators (voted 45-5) which expands expand the definition of a textbook to include digital devices like e-readers for elementary and high schools. The Bill must still be approved by the governor, House of Representatives, as well as the state Board of Education...but its overwhelming support in senate bodes well for the remainder of its journey.

California's initiative is entering its second phase. Digital Textbook Initiative Phase 2, is described as "a project to provide a list of standards aligned free or open source digital textbooks for high schools that cover course content in history-social science, mathematics, and science"...how I would love to see something like that in Ontario.

But this is not just a one-sided pursuit, many of the major textbook companies, e.g. McGraw-Hill Cos., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson Education - have signed deals with software developer ScrollMotion Inc. to create applications for electronic readers, including the new Apple iPad. A definite sign that textbook publishers are laying the foundations for a major shift to the delivery of products via digital platforms.