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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs