Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Dream for the Kindle in Education

We have all heard about textbooks being converted to be shown on the Kindle or other devices. They would have many benefits.
Students will not longer have to carry sagging backpacks of textbooks (and thereby enriching future generations of chiropractors).
Textbooks could be bought for only a year. I've heard teachers say, "The textbooks we use are really bad, the textbook committee made a bad recommendation, the district bought them, and we are stuck with the books until they wear out."
In electronic form, the textbooks can be swapped out yearly.

But the real opportunity with digital textbooks is something deeper - a chance to make textbooks better, really better.
eTextbooks have the advantage that different versions of the same chapter could be written and then tested objectively with test scores. A revised chapter detailing how to do factoring of polynomials could be written and then pushed to selected classroom's eTextbooks and tested. If it proves more effective than the previous version, the new one would make it into all the eTextbooks. Repeat the process over the nation and slowly a textbook could evolve into more effective way to transfer knowledge.
I know, I know, it's a pipe dream that in public education we would actually have scientific comparisons of teaching materials and methods, but won't you dream with me for a moment?

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