New York City schools may ditch textbooks
Schools without textbooks? It could become reality in New York City, which is floating an idea to instead use tablets in all 17,000 public schools. That would put the city in step with hundreds of other school systems across the country, where books and paper have gone the way of the mimeograph machine.
"We currently spend more than a hundred million dollars a year on textbooks," said New York City Council Speaker and 2014 mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, who made the tablet proposal Tuesday while addressing how to improve the city's school system. "That's enough money to buy tablets for every student in New York City public schools, and cover staff costs to make sure these online texts are meeting rigorous standards."
The move to replace hefty textbooks with feather light, programmable iPads or other tablets represents a growing national trend that's happened in places from small-town Kentucky to the suburbs of Boston and the city of San Diego. And, while it represents a major leap forward and would be a boon for your kid's aching back, the loss of textbooks has also been controversial.
"We do not believe the textbook will remain a central pillar of learning," LeiLani Cauthen, vice president at the Center for Digital Education, a research institute focused on the intersection of education and technology, told Yahoo! Shine. But teachers have been building lessons around textbooks forever, she said, and with tablet-based learning, teachers can just have kids log in and have virtual lessons begin.
"This shift means they’re not lecturing, they’re facilitators," she explained. "It’s a behavior shift of monumental proportion, and so has been rejected by many teachers and districts. It’s an argument against progress based on how it’s always been done, and no one seems to have the complete answer."
Also, Cauthen said, there has been pushback over tablet plans because of fears it could lead to learning from home, through virtual classrooms. "Six-year-old kids could not have been shot and killed if they were not penned together in physical buildings, but were learning online from home or in small neighborhood groups," she said. "The controversy over the a model that is 'placeless' will probably rage for the next 20 years, but has a certain inevitability."