School to hand out e-textbooks
Students to swot by smartphone
A London school’s pencilled in plans to ditch old-style textbooks because it wants pupils to swot up using mobile phones instead.
The Hackney City Academy, which is due to open in September 2009, plans to put PDF copies of its textbooks onto its intranet, from where pupils can access the books directly from their handsets or laptops. Pupils can then save content and read it as and when they wish.
The school has worked with the University of Aberystwyth and various textbook publishers to help develop and implement e-editions of the required textbooks.
Headmaster Mark Emmerson said the idea’s designed to help reduce the number of pupils carrying heavy book bags around and reduce the school’s textbook costs.
“It will be as simple as downloading a ringtone to a SIM card, something practically all teenagers will now know how to do,” he told the Daily Mail.
He claimed that homework usually only requires reference to one or two pages of a textbook at a time and so pupils won’t need to download vast swathes of data. Presumably pupils won’t be able to use the idea as ammunition for their parents to buy them a 32GB iPod Touch, then.
Traditional paper textbooks may still be available for kids without mobiles, or those who’ve had theirs nicked while reading a school e-book on the bus-ride home. Mobiles won’t be permitted for use during class time either.
Electronic book readers group test
I'm sure that kids will be thrilled with the idea of a 24-7 learning environment...!!
The fact that kids could be "working from home" via new technology is interesting too, although no more snow days!
In schools, I can see why additional connectivity to the web would be beneficial as long as they're using that resource for the right reasons and not Facebook.
I work out of the office an awful lot (as I'm sure many people now do), but this has only been made entirely possible in the past few years with the improvement of smartphone and pocket PC technology.
I use a HTC Touch Diamond -http://www.mypocketpcmobile.com/FullReviewHTCTouchDiamond/tabid/247/Default.aspx
It's a pretty good gadget and I'd like to see how this type of device could be adapted to fit a learning environment.
As someone who supports IT in a school, I can honestly say this is the most stupid idea I've heard in a long time...
good luck to the poor IT person at this school, they'll need it!
“It will be as simple as downloading a ringtone to a SIM card, something practically all teenagers will now know how to do,”
- in other words, impossible!
Marginal Costs vs Total Costs
Kevin - the current high price of textbooks is precisely because the cost of writing / proof-reading / etc is relatively high compared to the marginal costs of merely printing the things, which can now be done near enough on demand - if not literally so.
You can see this in the way that University textbooks cost even more than school textbooks, even though they have frequently lower production values (i.e. less artwork) - it's a factor of them having a smaller audience to spread the cost of development.
For what it's worth the same thing has applied with music for a long time - the fact that 'CDs only cost 50p to make' actually shows that the marginal cost was always the least relevant part of the total cost.
Now I'm all for reducing the costs and increasing the quality of education, but there is no reason why this has to have some link to digital technology per se.
In theory, the cheapest form of education would be a single national curriculum, a single exam board, and a single textbook for each course, with all copyright owned by the state/public. That would actually make even more sense if the marginal costs of textbook production were high than if they were low. Low marginal costs actually suggest more room for creating customised variations.
Not to mention the ideology that private companies competing should deliver a more 'competitive' solution than a monopoly (state or otherwise) - which is what paying someone to deliver a definitive 'free' work would be.
On the upside - BECTA are starting to recognise the importance of open source in educational software which may be the start of a transformation in that culture - equally the growth in sites for teachers to share lesson plans and resources (expect the government to decide to implement a teacher specific social network soon).
@AC- So what's the point of the homework then?
For some youngsters it seems to be turning into a matter of how best to phrase your questions on Yahoo! Answers.