This article caused quite a panic in my office recently. Take a moment to read:
DISTRICT LIGHTENS BACKPACKS WITH TEXTBOOKS ON DISCS
By Cynthia Kopkowski
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Many students in Palm Beach County can cross "I forgot to bring my book home" off the list of excuses they offer for not having their homework next year. The district — and Florida — are putting more demand on educational publishers to provide electronic copies of textbooks, in addition to the traditional set of books that teachers keep in their classrooms.
Seventh- and eighth-graders districtwide will get their new civics, American history and world cultures textbooks in electronic format. Most students already get math, science and language arts books in that format.
"There's a lot of advantages: The kids can utilize them at home, they don't have to take books back and forth, they can print it," said Richard Contartesi, the district's educational technology director. Students who do not have computers at home will not suffer from the so-called "digital divide" — the gap between those who do and do not have computers — Contartesi said. They'll still get a traditional textbook to keep at home. Demand for books on disc is growing, according to the Association of American Publishers, the principal trade association for the U.S. book publishing industry. Last year, school systems spent $7.5 billion on textbooks, Executive Director Stephen Driesler said. Roughly $2 billion of that was on electronic textbooks and other teaching materials. Five years ago, that number was nearly zero, he said. But the association is leery of districts and states starting to require that publishers offer their products on disc. Florida joins Georgia, California and Texas on the list of states leading the charge for electronic textbooks. "The problem with a mandate is if they sit there and say 'You have to offer an electronic version,' then the school district may or may not choose to actually buy them for all students," Driesler said. "Then the publisher gets forced into making those investments and nobody buys it." The association maintains its concern isn't based on losing revenue from textbook sales. It's a misconception that disc or online textbooks are cheaper to produce than the typical 750-page, $50 textbook, Driesler said. "People expect multimedia, interactivity," in electronic textbooks, he said. "Instead of having a printed quote of John Kennedy's inaugural address, they want the sound. To do that, you have to acquire the rights and that costs more than the paper." Even though the disc or online textbooks students with computers can use boast extra bells and whistles, it wouldn't necessarily widen the digital divide, though, Driesler said. "There has not been any good definitive research that kids learn better off of digital content versus print content," he said. But, "certainly it may be a little more enjoyable for some kids." This coming year, students at Don Estridge High Tech Middle will get many of their textbooks in the electronic format. The new Boca Raton school has no lockers for storage and administrators are always mindful of complaints that carrying too many books injures students' backs, Assistant Principal Michael McCurdy said. "We're trying to minimize the amount of books out there," McCurdy said. "So they don't get lost, eaten by the dog or left at the bus stop." >>>>>>Staff will be burning copies of the new civics, American history and world cultures books onto CD-ROMs for the students to take home. <<<<<<< Math, science and most of the language arts books are already given to them that way. In addition, students and parents can access the books online through the schools' Web site and Edline, the district's intranet system. Even if they have a computer, students won't be denied a traditional textbook if that's what they or their parents prefer, McCurdy said. "I understand that," he said. "I still enjoy the warmth of print in my lap."
WHAT??? Staff will be burning CDs? That couldn't be true! We're not sure this article is even accurate but just in case...Now the chickens without heads (me included) are running around to get the information out (as if for the first time) that copying CDs is a big NO-NO! So, in an honest effort to get out the information I begin my work: Research, Write, Submit to Legal, Wait.........Revise, Legal, Wait.............Revise, Legal, Wait...............by the time we finish with this endless loop, some of our most dedicated educators might have the entire collection of adopted textbooks copied and distributed. Next thing you know, there's that sweet 85 year old kindergarten teacher in handcuffs being escorted out of her elementary school by the SWAT team! And (from what I hear) jail-food is even worse than your school's cafeteria food on the last day of school. So, maybe someone will thank me someday, or maybe someone will tell me to shut my big mouth!
If you're one of the dedicated educators who has had a moment of guilt (haven't we all?) take a moment to read this informative article about copyright myths (click link in title).
If that doesn't convince you, send me an email to let me know what kind of cake you like. I'll be sure to visit you with your favorite when they decide to make an example of you.