1:1 computing and textbooks – swinging without the vine?

image courtesy of opensourceway @ Flickr

In our journey to a 1:1 environment, there has been more than a few issues that have created a greater amount of concern than could have been predicted. Fitting the BYO devices into lockers (required a maximum size of 15″ to ensure that they could fit), knowing which device belongs to which student (UV markers, asset tags, name tags), ensuring that students can back-up their devices (specific how-to classes)… The list goes on.

The most recent issue? Textbooks.

They’re too expensive for parents to justify buying them and a computer. They’re heavy. Will they be used?

Common questions and all reasonable. So I undertook some research to see what the market has in regards to eBooks as replacements for the physical book. Having looked at all of the major publishers I have come to the conclusion that the cost factor is still going to be in play.

Take, for example, the Jacaranda Unit 1 & 2 Physics eBook – costed at $49.95 for an “electronic version of the textbook and a complementary set of targeted digital resources”. The physical book costs $79.95 and includes the eBook. Now, if I purchase the eBook – at $50 – I can’t resell it at the end of the year, so there is no opportunity to recoup any of the cost. If, on the other hand, I buy the physical textbook and the eBook, I can keep the physical book at home and then resell it at the end of the year, as new, for about $40. The person who buys the book will get the Textbook and the registration key(with 6 months access remaining) for the eBook at $9.95 cheaper than buying the eBook alone.

Jacaranda are not alone either, Cambridge sells the Essential Mathematic Methods 1 & 2 Interactive textbook for $58.95.

Pearson sell the Heinemann Biology 2 Enhanced Pearson reader for $55.95.

The short and sharp is – there is no cost benefit of going to the eBooks. The publishers know this.

What they are banking on is that schools will not move away from textbooks all together. Teachers will rely on the textbooks for direction, questions and revision materials. Publishers are putting their money on teachers not evolving beyond the status quo.

What if we ditch textbooks all together? Will the students be at a disadvantage? Study Designs clearly set out what is expected to be covered throughout the Units so there is no reason why a school wouldn’t sit down as a group and write their own, tailored, textbook using programs such as the flexbooks at  CK12.org , Kno applications or Apple’s iBooks textbooks.

Methinks that it’s time to sit down and create our own resources to replace textbooks. Once created, they could be easily updated, managed and refocused to address the changing demands of the curriculum.

Leave a Reply

Notify of