Thanks to the Texas School Business journal for highlighting a San Antonio area school district in their September, 2014 cover article. The article (page 12), written by Shelley Seale (@shelleyseale), spotlights a picture of Jeff Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org), high school teacher, who was in Cohort 1 of the East Central ISD EC3 Initiative (which happens to use iPads).
As Texas school districts jump into Math Textbook Adoptions–with Houghton-Mifflin and/or Pearson–there is a clear need to provide students increased access to digital devices. Getting the paper copies of the textbooks is cost-prohibitive for many districts since the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) is perceived by some to be “under-funded.” You simply don’t have enough funding to buy textbooks or technology, which was the original intent.
|Read the complete article at their web site: http://issuu.com/tasanet/docs/tsb-september14#|
Kudos to the ECISD Instructional Technology team–Mary Ray, Marguerite Lowak and Jacob Ortega–for their hard work on EC3 Program, which has enjoyed 3 cohorts thus far of teachers. Of course, none of this would have been possible without top-level leadership support, including Gary Patterson (past superintendent), Dr. Patricia Birney (Asst. Superintendent of C&I), James Selby (Asst. Superintendent of Finance), and Roland Toscano (Current Superintendent).
You can find out more online at http://bit.ly/ecto (the department web site) by clicking the EC3 tab.
Shelley Seale (the author of the article) contacted me–following up on a recommendation from colleague and friend, Jennifer Bergland (TCEA)–back on July 21st and we did a short interview, where I attempted to respond to questions like those shown below:
I was reminded of a research study that I had responded to earlier this summer by Dr. Mary Beth Green in a similar vein. She outlined a list of benefits/advantages, disadvantages and challenges.
|ECISD High School Teacher, Jeff Johnson|
This is a subject that came up recently with new textbook adoptions. I’m reluctant to jump into supporting digital textbooks with both feet. My focus has always been on encouraging content creation, rather than reading other folks stuff. I haven’t seen the promise of eTextbook creation on iPads realized and figure that it’s because there are some who can do it, but most can’t or won’t.
Furthermore, curriculum and assessment management systems are piecemeal and rely on each individual teacher. (gee, I’m making a lot of unsubstantiated assertions…quick, someone stop me with facts and real life experiences).
With new textbook adoptions, eTextbooks are finding their way into our classrooms. What advice do you have about choosing a device to view these?
- iPads (even iPad Minis) are too expensive to just use for eTextbook viewing
- Low-cost Android tablets may be a boondoggle since their usability, although increasing, remains limited due to lack of rich ecology of edu-apps. I can see them for BYOT use, but are they ready for school systems?
- Don’t want to get one device for one set of textbooks then have to deal with DRM and account management that mean they will only work on one device (e.g. Ibooks Author/iTunes working for vendor lock-in with Apple)
- How do you assess eTextbook use so that one can justify purchasing expensive technology (e.g. device per student)?
- Hope to pick a uniform platform for eTextbooks that is low-cost and easy to manage centrally
- Hope to have DRM-free ebooks that can be viewed on any device
- Hope to provide every student with a mobile device and/or be able to deploy district content on their phones without artificial publisher limits.
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