K-12 districts expand 'digital first' initiatives, skip textbooks
- Districts in North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Pennsylvania are among those embracing a digital-first mindset that makes digital devices the primary tool of instruction over textbooks and forces a shift in the role of tech leaders along the way.
- District Administration reports the Vail School District in Arizona designed the Beyond Textbooks system to share teacher-created material online, and more than 13,000 teachers across multiple states have come to use the service, creating demand for a CIO as well as a technology director within the district.
- Houston and Baltimore districts have taken advantage of pilots to implement digital-first initiatives on a smaller scale before a district-wide launch, and Pennsylvania’s Upper Perkiomen School District has saved $300,000 in two years by using free online resources instead of buying textbooks.
The Obama administration has encouraged digital-first efforts through its #GoOpen initiative, urging schools to use free, open educational resources and researchers and publishing entities to create them. Should OER gain a strong foothold in the education market, textbook publishers could be at a severe disadvantage, though they have so far continued to compete by offering wraparound curriculum and instruction benefits along with their basic products.
Michael McShane, director of education policy at the Show-Me Institute in Kansas City, MO, however, points to this threat to the textbook industry as dangerous. If the textbook market is severely weakened and the promise of OER does not bear out — or the burgeoning industry does not grow fast enough to support district’s full needs — there may not be much to turn back to.
- District Administration Tech & content team up in K12
- Education Dive New #GoOpen campaign promotes free open ed resources
- Education Dive OER critic: Obama administration may be going too far with #GoOpen support
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