As I sit in on department meetings, staff meetings, technology committee meetings, etc. two theme keeps re-emerging: the need to reduce spending, and the need to begin leveraging what we have at our disposal.

Some aruge that e-textbooks may be one option for schools in the future to consider. Check out this article from the NY Times:

tinyurl.com/yj4vqme

Utilizing handheld devices, which have become nearly ubiquitous among our students in North America, gives teachers flexibility in shaping their course content (and delivering it!), at the same time reduces the tens of thousands of dollars wasted on textbooks and the costs inherit in maintaining them (i.e. repairs, lost books, etc.). The average life of a textbook? Fours years. (Does anyone cover their textbooks anymore?). E-textbooks allows editions to be made seemlessly, real-time hyperlinks allow for deeper research (versus the old school way of breadth over depth), and the flexibility to customize the text and content teachers deem necessary and of relevance.

I’m not sure if anyone else notices, but fewer and fewer of our students are lugging around their textbooks. Many sit either at home or in lockers for the majority of semester. In fact, I have, on average 6-8 students each semester asking to sign out another copy of their textbook to “keep at home”. Paper textbooks have long outlived their use and their heydays have long since past (bye-bye 1988). Our students, however, have NO problem carrying and using their cell phones, Blackberries, and iPhones, and other handheld devices. Is it not simply a matter of harnessing and leveraging that usage for classroom purposes? To help improve learning. To help engage more students. It is being done in many schools in Canada and the United States. It’s not ground-breaking thought to say the least.

Deb Naka is ready to begin to utilize the new e-book options for Math 9 (and 10, 11, & 12 will be coming in successive years). She recognizes that there is a shift happening; a new way of thinking about how we spend money and leverage what we have. Oh yeah, there’s also that student engagement factor, too that research has shown is KEY to developing lifelong learners.

So, then, what’s holding up the train? The only real factor is the lack of a stable, centrally-managed wireless network. The possibilities that this will offer to teachers to help leverage technology in their classrooms is virtually limitless. Wireless IS coming to LVR. There’s no doubt about that. Perhaps one to two years away (probably less!). All that really stands in the way is a new server. This is an obstacle that we can (and will) fall by the wayside as we move forward.

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