With laptops and cloud devices becoming more and more common in classrooms today many are asking if the textbook is on its way out. While the idea of digital textbooks has been around for over a decade in one from or another it is only recently
started to attract some real attention. From pricey college texts to jump starting a child’s education digital textbooks and interactive learning software are slowly, yet steadily, taking the place of traditional textbooks.
Several different business models have emerged in an attempt to capitalize on the disruption of the text book market. The traditional publishers are now offering lower cost electronic versions of their texts. While this can greatly reduce the cost of a text, it can still be pricey. In fact the average college student will spend over a $1,000 a year on texts. However, for many students a new option is now available, free.
A Boston start-up, Boundless Learning, is creating a new platform for getting the information traditionally found in a text. Students can type in the name of the book they need, say Advanced Economics, and boundless will organize an online textbook for you. Boundless uses a combination of human and computer “editors” referencing open source resources such as Wikipedia government websites, and various academic repositories to create a text book that often mirrors its official counterpart.
It is not just college students looking to save money that are turning to digital learning material. Parents of elementary students can now use a host of different interactive learning platforms in place of a traditional workbook. Quest Schools of New York is founded on over 30 years of research showing how interactive games can deliver standards -based curriculum in an “irresistible” way. Other resources like ABCmouse give parents of PK-K a fun way to give their first time students a head start. Combining fun interactive play with a full curriculum of reading, math, science, arts & colors, and even music.
In a time when we get our news on our phone, watch TV on a tablet, and work in the cloud it should come as no surprise that education would adapt as well. Laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks are filling the classrooms in an effort to bring our schools into the 21st century. While there are still many different schools of thought on the matter of interactive education one thing is for certain, the textbooks days are numbered.