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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid