Alert Solutions Blog

FCC Urges Tech Industry to Reinvent Textbooks for K12 Schools

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 @ 11:01 AM

Shortly after its December 2014 decision to raise internet connectivity funding to schools by $1.5 billion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urged the technology industry to create innovative educational material.

Recently, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel highlighted the FCC’s efforts to encourage the digital disruption within teaching and the textbook industry.

“In the rest of the world, we have an infinite array of digital tools to change our civic and commercial lives. Yet somehow we’ve put up some barriers at the school doors,” Rosenworcel said. “It’s time we started inviting them in and wrestling with them and doing some good things.”

As a market estimated at $17 billion and with price increases in the last decade at 800%, Rosenworcel said the industry’s services burden educators and students alike. For example, the average K12 school district is only able to afford textbook purchases every 7-10 years.digitaltextbooks

As an alternative to traditional textbooks, the FCC would like to see more digital textbooks in the classroom, or the use of sites that not only provide knowledge, but also hold K12 students accountable to demonstrate their education with games, tests and other interactive assignments.

“If we can think about digitization in a way that makes kids not just consumers of educational content but creators, I think we’re going to develop a generation of students who are going to better serve our economy and better serve our world,” Rosenworcel said.

According to a release from the FCC, approximately 41% of rural public schools lack fiber networks that meet modern connectivity targets for digital learning. In urban and suburban public schools, that number is 31%. Additionally, about 40% of K12 school districts report high up-front capital costs of infrastructure that prevent upgrades.

The E-rate program, the nation’s largest supporting education technology, is hoping to drive the FCC’s long-term high-speed internet connectivity goals.

To learn more about the changes made to the E-rate program in 2015, click here.

Topics: e-textbooks, school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education

Schools Make the Transition towards E-Textbooks

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 @ 15:03 PM

The Federal Education Department has called for schools to use e-textbooks within the next five years and some schools have already begun to do so.  The way schools distribute these e-textbooks and integrate them into their classrooms varies.

There are many different approaches schools use to “go digital”. Arizona’s Vail School District launched “Beyond Textbooks,” which features a repository of digital content created and shared by participating teachers. This approach has worked well for the school and helped boost student math and reading achievement.eTextbooks resized 600

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, public schools are using Discovery Education’s science TechBook.  These books are platform-agnostic, which allows users to utilize these books on more than just one type of device.  Teachers use these e-textbooks in class with students through interactive whiteboards and digital projectors.  Although, it was difficult to get usernames and passwords out to all 90,000 students in the district, the schools have said the efforts were well worth it.

In Junction City, Kansas, Geary County Schools USD No. 475 is in their second year of using FlexBooks.  The school began using these e-textbooks through the help of a grant, allowing them to purchase classroom sets of Samsung Series 7 Slate PCs for students.  Students are also allowed to use their own devices. 

Although these schools have all been successfully implementing the use of e-textbooks, there are many hurdles that come along with the transition.  The State Educational Technology Directors Association point out the following difficulties:

1.    State laws and policies lag behind changes in technology.

2.    Insufficient access to technology and technical support in schools and homes.

3.    Inadequate teacher training.

4.    The business model for instructional materials prevents innovation because of its age.

With technology becoming more and more prevalent in the world, schools have no choice but to evolve their ways of teaching.  Technology is part of 21st century learners’ everyday lives, and implementing this into classrooms can allow teaching to become more interactive and engaging for these students.

Does your school have plans to integrate e-textbooks into classrooms? Share your thoughts on our blog!

Topics: e-textbooks, power announcement, powerschool, education

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