How broadband can do away with textbooks: Post op-ed
Speed, access and price have been the issues most debated about the National Broadband Plan presented by the Federal Communications Commission. But as important is what you actually do with high-speed Internet connections. One important area is education reform and leading authors of the broadband plan, Blair Levin and J. Erik Garr, say the nation needs to tackle textbooks first.
Here is their op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday:
By Blair Levin and J. Erik Garr
Friday, July 16, 2010
The Texas State Board of Education voted in May to adopt a controversial set of guidelines for social studies and history textbooks. Countless hours of debate and indignation -- and countless words in newspapers and on blogs -- were dedicated to such questions as whether Texas schools should teach about the Contract With America and John Calvin.
These issues are important to get right. But the debate misses a more important question: Why are we still using ink-on-paper textbooks, when digital technology offers a much better way?
Today, Johnny opens his math textbook and reads a chapter. He understands parts of it, but not all. He does the 10-question homework on paper and hands it in. Later, he gets the homework back and sees that he answered seven questions correctly.
Envision this: Johnny pulls up a math chapter on his e-reader. When he doesn't understand something, he clicks a link and watches a video of a great teacher presenting the concept, perhaps using a cool simulation. If Johnny still doesn't understand, he can chat online with a tutor familiar with the material. When Johnny does his homework on his e-reader, he immediately learns what he got wrong and sees an explanation based on his particular mistake. Johnny's parents receive a text or e-mail saying that he finished his math homework. The teacher receives a report that evening outlining what the class found straightforward and which problems puzzled students, along with suggestions on how to address the inadequacies. The school board receives data that lead to constant improvement in the effectiveness of course material.
Read here for the full article.
July 16, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
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