Online Textbooks in High Schools

October 3rd, 2011

A great article in WaPo about the use of electronic textbooks in high school classes.

Elsewhere, many schools that have made the leap from print to digital have done so alongside initiatives to provide a laptop or tablet for every student.

That approach has contributed to impressive gains in state test scores and graduation rates over the past four years in Mooresville, N.C., a small working-class community where 40 percent of students come from low-income families.

Mooresville Superintendent Mark Edwards said the laptops have turned classrooms into individualized learning laboratories where teachers can pinpoint each child’s weaknesses and tailor lessons accordingly. Students are more engaged — they tend “to sit up a little bit straighter and lean in a little bit more,” said Edwards, who added that giving every child round-the-clock laptop access was key to the program’s success.

Providing a laptop for every student in Fairfax — which has 175,000 students, more than 30 times the number in Mooresville — would be complicated and expensive. But there is little doubt that bridging the digital divide will become an increasingly pressing issue.

To ease demand on school laptops, officials are encouraging students who have their own at home to bring them to school. There are also plans to lend computers to needy children on a large scale, in much the way schools lend musical instruments.

Lavery said schools can’t wait until every problem has been solved to embrace digital learning. She said they must push ahead and help the least-privileged students overcome technological barriers as they arise.

You see that! Mandating laptops. Not banning them! Law school profs would be well-served to take note.