How do people think that textbooks are going to change in the future? Several weeks ago, an assistant superintendent of a Connecticut district told me that he wanted to purchase a subscription to my current events newsletter but was concerend because he hadn't seen it yet. The very nature of the newsletter prohibits me from writing it in advance. The newsletter asks questions about current events to promote discussion in the classroom.

In my response to this administrator I challenged him to consider how his successor will determine which books to purchase. In three, five or ten years will any educator want to purchase a book, particularly for science and social studies, that has been completely edited? Will the average teacher have the skills and time to completely develop their own resources from material available in a myriad of online sites? What will the textbook industry of the future look like?

In line with this question, I wonder what people think about wikipedia. I personally believe that it's another resource and all material from all resources should be triangulated. What do you think?

Andrew Pass

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As bad as it may sound the whole "text book vs ebook" arguement always makes me laugh.

I was in college in the 90s, the very early days of the internet, cell phones (I had a Sprint cell before the days of contracts), etc. No Google. No eBooks. Barely eMail via telnet. I bought about 4 text books in my 4 years. Text books were always required by the professor or syllabus but there were only those 4 times that I actually needed the books.

And that was before the internet. If I were in college now I'd probably need fewer books, print or ebook, then I did in the 90s.
I agree, I took several courses where I didn't buy the book. I also have students who don't buy them, they use the reserve copy, or go exclusively from lectures.
I think textbooks very soon will able bought online and use with the Kindle. Testing is being done at several colleges at the moment. I think it will be only a matter of a couple years before we've gone completely paperless.
It seems that eBooks and books via kindle and similar technoloiges would be much more cost effective and convenient for students. This alone is enough to make me, as a college student, strongly consider purchasing digital texts. Information on the web is vast and there may soon come a time when that is all students need. In regards to Wikipedia, I believe that it could be a valuable source for students. They must simply be prepared to check their sources to find out if their information is accurate. While this may seem like a lot of work, it is something that should be considered regardless of what source or text is being consulted.
This is such a great question, and so relevant to our technology-driven world! I am currently a Curriculum Specialist for a K-8 virtual academy, and many of our 'textbooks' are online. While we do have some traditional textbooks, we have moved to a model that encourages students to access their materials via their online school and the Internet. This not only reduces printing costs, purchasing costs, etc., but it also allows the company who has written our curriculum to update quickly and efficiently. When advances in Science are made, those updates can be added to the curriculum almost immediately. It takes years for textbook companies to write a new textbooks with new information, but only moments (or days, as the case may be) for virtual resources to be updated.

I agree that teachers do not have the skills or resources necessary for developing all of their own resources for teaching. Unfortunately, there is a ton of information on the web that is incorrect or inaccurate, which makes a teacher's job even more challenging. Wikipedia is a great resource, but like all others, the information cannot just be taken for granted to be correct. Triangulating all of the available information into one product can be incredibly time-consuming, but also a valuable way for teachers and students to make sense of the information that is out there related to a particular topic.

With tools like the Kindle/Nook, increased used of laptops, etc., students have had an increasing amount of access to the web, which makes the idea of virtual textbooks ideal, especially when thinking about our high school students who are lugging around multiple books that weigh in excess of 10-20 pounds. I would have loved to have had access to online textbooks when I was in high school! Students are continually being drawn to mobile technology resources, making it even more ideal for textbook access to be technology-driven.

These are just my thoughts. :)
The biggest change that I see is the reduction of the cost of materials, such as textbooks and the impact of reader's reviews to promote the best material. There are many technology companies working on this right now, my partners and I have developed a new community for teachers and students called StudyBuddyCampus. It is free and it represents our vision of the future for the use of technology in the classroom. Our goal is to revolutionize the delivery of education by combining an interactive game like experience with the latest educational content. We have several teachers and students testing our Beta site at, and we are constantly releasing new features. Given the topic of your discussion, I thought you might be interesting in taking a look, and if you have the time, we would love to receive feedback from people with your kind of experience.

Best Regards.
I think textbooks need to stick to the facts and quit including so much opinion in them
Although if you are covering history it is almost all bias if you think about it. Discussing events that happened in the past, you are only hearing one side of the story in textbooks. Whether we try to or not, all our stories turn out to be is our opinion on what is going on. For math, science, etc. though, yes - definitely - opinions do not need to be included!



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