Textbooks: Evolving, but not Disappearing

Via ArsTechnica’s Future U series of articles:


Textbooks are a thing of the past, says the common wisdom. Well, the common wisdom of the Technorati maybe. The problem with that thinking is that the number one publisher in the world is Pearson, a textbook publisher, who brought in $7.75 billion in 2009….To say textbooks are big business is like saying bullets are ouchie….So writing the obituary for textbooks would be putting the cart before the horse. But pretending like they are not changing their shape, if not their nature, is to proclaim, from one’s buggy, that automobiles are a passing fad.

On the other hand,

teachers are mainly bringing in content from materials available on the Internet, the teachers and students are producing their own content, and we provide some district-wide subscriptions to additional online content. Students and teachers are wanting relevant materials that are provided just in time rather than static textbooks.

The article concludes:

In much the same way that the classroom of the future is evolving away from the unidirectional transmission of knowledge via lecture and toward dialogue and project-based learning, the textbook is responding to the same strains. Like the classroom, the textbook is likely to become more collaborative and customizable.

Collaborative and customizable textbooks? I do think it depends on the class. It’s not like history is changing, for example, so I’m not as worried about having a static collection of facts. And basic scientific principles don’t (always) change that fast. But classes like IR and philosophy could benefit from fluid content. How do you see this trend playing out in your classroom?


Be Acceptable.

Some rights reserved by Gord McKenna

Here’s the AUP. I collaborated with my colleagues Justin and Tara for it. Go ahead and read it – it’s only two pages! No legalese, no laundry list of “don’ts,” no ridiculously intricate stipulations about how to use resources. Just positive, common sense guidelines. It’s aspirational, not contractual.

When we wrote it, we followed the following guidelines:

Language Level: Written for high schoolers by high school teachers. This is not to say that the guidelines couldn’t be used in a different school level, but phrases like “Adopting transparent and honest online identities” would have to be translated into direct, kid-friendly language.

Topics Covered: It’s streamlined compared to other AUPs that we reviewed because our school has more limited technology resources (such as print queue systems, school email for students, 1:1 laptops, etc). Therefore, it wasn’t necessary to set out guidelines for such systems. Instead, we focused on how we wanted students to interact with others and participate in communities.

Issues of Focus: We address on students behavior online and in real life (IRL) by covering three topics: surfing the web, use of personal electronic devices (it’s not uncommon for our students to come to school with two phones), and utlization of the school’s physical resources (including our limited bandwidth). Once again, it’s fairly limited in scope, but a detailed document is useless if no one bothers to read it.

Sharing with Students: We haven’t discussed this, although I recognize it’s an important component that ties in with the topics of Weeks 3 and 4. The school currently gives a handbook quiz at the beginning of the year, and it would be easy to incorporate elements from the AUP into that. However, I’ll reiterate my admiration for Kim Cofino’s Digital Citizenship Week because such an approach allows a school to highlight a topic that doesn’t fit effortlessly into many existing curricula. If such an option isn’t available, I’d make it part of a unit on digital citizenship in the technology curriculum.



Principals Behaving Badly

Well, here’s another from the edition of “People Behaving Badly Online:”

Suzy Harriston wanted to be friends on Facebook.

The profile said she was from Clayton and had more than 300 friends, many of them from Clayton High School.

No one seemed to question who Harriston was. That is, until the night of April 5, when a 2011 grad and former Clayton quarterback posted a public accusation.

“Whoever is friends with Suzy Harriston on Facebook needs to drop them. It is the Clayton Principal,” wrote Chase Haslett.

And then, Suzy Harriston disappeared, say those who saw the profile.

Original article from stltoday.com ᔥ Slashdot.

I’ll file this under the “Not illegal in many countries, but really, what were you thinking?” category.