News / USA

Online Textbooks Update Student Learning

Washington-area school system turns to e-books

June Soh

Electronic books, or e-books, have changed the way many of us read for pleasure. Now digital text books - educational volumes which are read online - are transforming the way many students learn. The Washington region’s largest school system, with 175,000 students, has begun using online course material for its middle- and high-school students.

History teacher Luke Rosa wheels his cart filled with laptops into a classroom at Falls Church High School in Virginia. He asks his students to look to Chapter 6, Section 1, on Jacksonian America. Rather than using a regular textbook, it's all online.

This school year, Fairfax County Public Schools shifted from hard cover to electronic textbooks for social studies in its middle and high schools. The switch came after digital books were used in 15 schools last year.

“Our students come to us technologically savvy and ready to utilize resources from a variety of different places,” says Assistant Superintendent Peter Noonan, who points to the benefits of electronic textbooks, such as the ability to update content. "The world is changing consistently. The online textbooks can change right along with the events that are happening.”

There's a significant financial benefit as well.

“Usually it is in the neighborhood of between $50 and $70 to buy a textbook for each student," Noonan says, "which adds up to roughly $8 million for all of our students in Fairfax County. We actually have purchased all of the online textbooks for our students for just under $6 million.”

Students have mixed feelings about the switch, but most like it.

“I do not have to carry a textbook around, so that is nice,” says high school student Melanie Reuter.

Fellow student Maria Stephany isn't completely sold on the concept. “I don’t like it because the internet sometimes doesn’t work.”

“You can highlight your work," says high schooler Brian Tran. "You can leave notes on your work and it will all be saved onto your account. It is a lot better than a regular textbook.”

Social studies teacher Michael Bambara thinks so, too.

“Particularly this book, that I use in government, has differentiated reading levels," Bambara says. "So a person can individualize their learning and I can individualize their instruction.”

However, making sure all students have online access outside school remains a challenge. About 10 percent of students in Fairfax County don’t have a computer or online access at home.

Stephen Castillo is one of them, but he makes it work. “Pretty much go to the library, I guess, or go to a friend’s house.”

Besides the public library’s free computer terminals, students can also use the school's after-school computer lab, or go to  one of the computer club houses supported by the county.

“All of my family works on a computer, my sister and me both do our homework on it," says Slieman Hakim, a middle school student. "So I come here to do my homework. It is good.”

Neighboring counties are also considering online textbooks. Gladys Whitehead, director of Curriculum of Prince George’s County Public Schools, says its survey shows 60 percent of students have computer access at home.

“Next year we will just have a pilot with probably one classroom and one subject area, so that we can see what issues will come up with complete online access.”

Meanwhile, Peter Noonan foresees a future without traditional textbooks for his young child.

“I envision a future where my third grade son will likely not being carrying five textbooks back and forth between high school and home when he gets there. I think he will be carrying either a tablet or some sort of device that he will be able to access his information on.”

And schools, he says, are taking the first steps in that direction now.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid