Daytime: Away With Textbooks, That’s Old News, and 5 Innovations That Will Change Computing in 2012

Hey All,

Despite the cold weather and rain, I’m walking around campus with an extra pep in my step this morning (I know it’s sunny out now, but the blog was written on Monday AM).  Three words will explain this – FLYERS SERIES WIN.  I’ll spare those readers not interested in hockey with my commentary and details on the exciting achievements of this team.  However, I will suggest that those of you interested in some Flyers talk to leave a comment as I’m certainly willing to chat!  Despite a busy weekend of watching hockey and a rain soaked MS Walk, I found time to keep up with the latest happenings in the world of education and technology via my social media sources i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and RSS Feeds. Interestingly, there has been a recent paradigm shift where many of us turn to social media for our news rather than the traditional nightly news at 6 or or daily newspapers.  Other than the technology section of the NY Times and Huffington Post (which I read through my Google Reader or Flipboard on my iPad), I’m completely reliant on the aforementioned social media outlets for what’s going on in the world.  So I’m curious, how do you get your news??  Take a look a this infographic from Mashable that illustrates How Social Media Is Taking Over the News Industry.  What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to hear both traditional and more modern views of how we get our news.

My next point of business for this week’s Daytime post is with Digital textbooks or ebooks, or iBooks, or whatever you want to call them. I read two interesting articles this weekend on this subject, the first article is from Electronista “Digital Textbooks May Save Schools $250 per Student per Year.”  According to the article “If all or almost all of the US’s 49-50 million K-12 students were to be equipped with digital textbooks, the quality of the textbook education would significantly improve (along with other less-tangible benefits such as an expected lowering of the dropout rate and improved test scores) and the cumulative savings would be substantial: over $12 billion per year. Though the average $250 per student per year is only a fraction of the $3,800 schools spend per student per year in public education, it would act as a significant hedge against future cost increases while improving the quality of the education, the commission believes.”  Another highlight of the article suggests that “Although the US spends more than $7 billion annually on traditional textbooks, many students are still using books that are seven to 10 years old and often contain outdated material, the commission said. Other countries, such as South Korea, may gain a further competitive advantage over the US by transitioning to digital textbooks more quickly.”  Given that we have the technology with our 1:1 program to support ebooks, along with the recent Apple iBooks announcement, doesn’t it just make sense to transition to ebooks?  It seems to me that with the Web and Database resources currently available to us, we should take advantage of resources that are both current and updateable in real-time to reflect what’s is relevant today, not 10 years ago.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, for or against.

The second article I read Increase Student Engagement by Getting Rid of Textbooks was written in 2010 by Edutopia’s Betty Ray.  Ray a history and foreign language teacher suggests that some textbooks have value “I’ve had to realize that times have changed and that even in the short decade that I’ve been a teacher, many of the texts, tools, and devices I’d learned to see as “most effective” weren’t necessarily the “most effective” now in 2010 when it came to holding my student’s attention — and more importantly, instigating the best benefits of their motivation and imagination.”  Another point that I found interesting that Ray mentions is “medium does matter.” Think back to when you were in school, did you ever get bored reading a textbook?  Admit it, you fell asleep a time or two with your face in the text, I know I have.  “If textbooks were inspiring and everyone wanted to read them, they’d be at the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list. But they’re not.”  The article was written in 2010 prior to Apple’s recent iBooks announcement where they announce that they’re partnering with the top 4 education text book publishers to offer interactive digital textbooks or “iBooks” for the iPad.  Consider how effective technology  can increase student engagement.  Want to see it in person, stop by a lower school classroom and see how students intuitively understand iPads, and then think about trashing, or better yet, recycling your textbooks!

I’ll leave you this week with one of the more intriguing articles I read over the weekend by Mashable writter Amy-Mae Elliot – 5 Exciting Innovations That Will Change Computing in 2012.  While Apple’s Siri has stalled a bit in my opinion, I sincerely believe the technology will continue to evolve to a point where voice commands take over mouse/ trackpad controls, as well as many of the tap/touch controls on our mobile devices.  Other highlights of the article include eye control (think Google Glasses), advanced touchscreen control, and gesture control. Check out the Samsung Smart TV for an example of a product currently available that uses gesture and speech controls.  The price point is currently a bit high, but it’s a nice glimpse into the future of home entertainment 


11 responses to “Daytime: Away With Textbooks, That’s Old News, and 5 Innovations That Will Change Computing in 2012

  1. Awesome win! It just felt good all the way through the game. Giroux was totally an animal out there. What a competitive guy. I saw a picture on Facebook of the Flyers celebrating at El Vez after the game. How much fun would that have been to be there! Now we wait! Who would you prefer we play in the next round?

  2. I’m still smiling, Debbie! Giroux definitely solidified his captaincy on Sunday, assuming Pronger is going to retire. It’s great to see a player so highly skilled with the grit, determination, and such a competitive edge….players like that are few and far between. I love this team and can’t wait until the next round! Tommy will argue with me about this but i’d love to see the Flyers get Florida or NJ in the next round, not to see that either would be a cake walk, but if we want to get to the cup it’s going to be difficult to have to go through the Rangers AND either Boston/Washington. With that said, I do want to see either NYR or Boston continue to meet us in the Eastern Conference finals, for what will surely be a classic series. I’ve been watchng hockey non-stop for about two weeks now, Im just bummed out there’s no games on tonight! But we do get to watch 2 game 7’s, one tomorrow and the next on Thursday, can’t wait!!!

  3. First, the reason why history textbooks are largely so crummy (at least in history) isn’t that the book is an outdated concept, it’s that textbooks lack point of view and are produced to conform to arbitrary and conflicting state standards. It’s a market problem, not a technology problem. As long as history textbooks have to appease both Texas and California state controlled textbook purchasing, they will continue to be lowest common denominator, boring, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pablum. Adding interactive content to a crappy product isn’t going to solve that problem. I looked at the online version of the textbook I used and got a sample sent to me. The annotation function didn’t work properly and it was hard to navigate. The click to hear it read to you function didn’t work. Additional content was only available with an additional subscription (and it wasn’t clear what that content was, I suspect much of it is merely links to free content available elsewhere). Worse, the gorgeous visuals in the US History text that I chose because of it’s strong integration of visuals, especially as primary documents, gets lost on the screen when you can’t see two pages at once. For now, US history textbooks in print remain the better option.

  4. Hey David,
    I couldn’t agree more with this comment – “Adding interactive content to a crappy product isn’t going to solve that problem.” Transferring what exists in a traditional textbook to an etext with pics and movies, that don’t always work certainly is not a solution to the problem. We shall see if Apple’s partnership with textbook publishers to create new texts will help solve this problem, but that doesn’t help us much right now, and who knows if it ever will. Have you ever considered creating your own digital text? Or using Haiku to share access to online resources from databases or other Web resources?

  5. vince – from another perspective – that of your friendly school store manager – i can tell you that the major publishers are struggling to deliver good digital textbooks to the market. our publishers’ reps – normally super helpful and knowledgeable about curriculum – are not fully fluent with their own digital course material and sometimes even the samples they have sent to us do not work properly. when we ask for help they send us to their it departments – not curriculum experts like our reps. some of my counterparts at other schools and colleges are experiencing the same thing – teachers are anxious to reap the benefits of digital course material but the publishers are just not there yet. have any of our teachers created their own digital texts? i kind of hear a big sigh when you suggest that – our teachers are so busy teaching, prepping, coaching – but maybe it isn’t such an onerous task? the publishers will make big strides and this time next year should be better.

  6. Hey Anne,
    This is been a problem for a long time now, the publishers are putting out subpar digital texts, and from what you’re telling me there is a disconnect between those creating the content and those that are creating the actual texts. Ultimately it’s a big problem that we’re really hoping that Apple can solve with their forthcoming iBooks 2. Not sure if you’ve seen any of the digital texts, but they look amazing. If you have access to an iPad, check out EO Wilson’s “Life on Earth” it’s a free download and a nice glimpse of what’s to come with the new interactive ibooks. We’re currently exploring options for teachers to create their own textbooks for the iPad as well as for laptops. I know everybody is busy, but I also think that to create engaging content that textbooks don’t offer is going to take some work. That may be by creating digital texts, or even using Haiku to offer Web resources and publications from various databases that create the learning environment that we’re looking to offer that the traditional textbook cannot. I’m not quite sure which online databases we have access to (I’m sure the librarians could help us here), but I do know that there is plenty of content out there that can be used to replace texts as well. The Edutopia article that I referenced suggests a few that the author uses for her 9th Grade Civ class i.e. The Internet History Sourcebook – The Perseus Project The Library of Congress’s “Teaching with Primary Sources Project” and The Internet Archive . So it’s out there, we just have to do the leg work to find it!

  7. Vince,
    You cannot replace a textbook with primary sources. Can’t be done. Especially not with high school students. In order for primary sources to make sense, there has to be a context for what is going on. Who is the author? What is their social position, their audience? What are their concerns? Stanford has done a ton of work on this. And it’s not like we don’t use primary sources in our classes. In fact, as a history department I can confidently say we are well ahead of the curve on that front both in terms of the amount of textual sources we use and non-textual primary sources (ie: the Met’s collections, maps, audio and film, etc. etc.) But you can use all the primary sources in the world and without some interpretive frameworks it’s just a big pile of stuff. That’s what a textbook is, an interpretive framework and so far the way Apple has talked about it, they don’t get why history textbooks written for high schools stink and how to change that.

  8. I am very behind in my DayTime reading. Maybe it is all that hockey I am watching. I was so late to meet someone yesterday because I refused to leave the city where I was watching the game to get to King of Prussia.

    It is very intriguing to see how the digital books are developing and I think a lot about how that will translate into the early years. In early childhood teaching we get so much information from pictures, videos, illustrations, photos, artifacts we can touch, picture books, manipulatives, posters, experiences, etc. and do not have textbooks. I continue to find Haiku a useful resource for housing the multiple media resources we use. Imagining how all of these resources including new digital children’s picture books can be incorporated into a powerful resource that would be even more accessible to the students at home is exciting. However, I am still not ready to let go of individual small emergent readers that create the reading community that our book basket reading program creates.

    Now the final thought, will I have the energy to wait in line to get into Xfinity Live tomorrow? I heard it was insane yesterday so I headed to Rittenhouse area instead.

  9. Oh, forgot to comment about the news item. I shared that image with my dad. I have such mixed feelings about this development in news because the social media is where I tend to get a lot of my news but my dad worked in the newspaper business for the past 39 years (29 at the Inquirer) until his department was outsourced and he was forced into retirement. It is extra strange as someone who was raised around the newspaper business. Can’t stop the tides of change though.

  10. Steph, loving that you’ve gotten this into hockey! Is this something new this year, or have you been a fan for a while? Xfinity is pretty cool, I was down there for a Springsteen concert about a month ago and had a great time. You can see the energy in that place when watching games, I’m hoping I get a chance to experience it during this playoff run. You’ll have to check back in and let me know if you go.

    When you speak of a the powerful resource that students would have access to at home, are you by chance talking about the iPad? I imaging you are, and BTW what has your experience been with them with the girls this year?

    Regarding Haiku, we’re pumped that you’re using it to store and share resources. It’s a great example of how technology can facilitate powerful and engaging learning amongst our youngest students.

  11. I have been following for awhile. I am still not as knowledgable as you but I like the energy and pace of the game and who doesn’t like playoffs?!?! Never made it down to Xfinity but I did go down to the actual game last night. I had such high hopes! I was ready to imagine that place erupting as we stayed alive. Painful. 😦

    I was thinking of the ipad – or………something that hasn’t been created yet! There is a ways to go before it is quite where I would completely want it with our younger girls. I have done some things I have really liked with it this year and have a laundry list of other things I wanted to try. I kind of think of Haiku as my flipped classroom. I send the families there to have the girls watch certain content and share resources that will support them in our classroom learning. Now I have to create a whole new Haiku world for First Grade though. UGH!

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