Monday, July 19, 2010

Textbook or Netbook?

I read an article lately that suggested in a few short years, the use of textbooks in classrooms will be a thing of the past. Instead, each child will have their own laptop computer with the textbooks downloaded.

My first thought was how fabulous it would be not to have to cover any more textbooks in September! No more cutting brown shopping bags and fitting it around the book! My second thought was how nice it would be not to see my kids schlepping TONS of heavy books back and forth from school, their backs bending under the weight.

I couldn't really think of any downside unless it be the expense involved...the expense of replacing spilled on, virus ridden and lost laptops. The worry of lost computers left behind at sporting practices and dropped from counter tops in the rush to pack schoolbags.

I wonder if making laptops a necessary item might also make it more difficult to monitor web usage of children. Currently, I ration and monitor the amount of time and which sites my children use. If they are on the Internet for school, who's to say cyberbullying and inappropriate usage won't sky-rocket?

What's your thought? Textbook or netbook?


  1. As a teacher, I am also torn on this. There is something to be said about textbooks, they are not TOTALLY ancient. They are ridiculously heavy and are outdated almost as soon as they are printed. I like the idea of laptops for students, as long as they are built specifically for student use. It is very difficult to completely monitor/regulate student use of the internet, but it is possible to track and identify usage. The majority of students that have access to this type of program have been incredibly responsible about the school issued laptops. As long as they (and their parents) are held responsible then the school district will be covered. Also, from what I have read and understand about the cost of textbooks, laptops would be a bit of a chunk upfront but would pay for themselves within a year or two. The publishing companies would still make money on the installed materials and updates, so I can't see why they would fight the change too much.

  2. My wife retired from almost 30 years of teaching special education for emotionally disabled children and those that she taught were not the kind that could keep track nor afford their own laptops. In the future, I do see a change in technology on how we learn and teach. That could take the form of very inexpensive text readers (Kindle, Ipad, etc) where the teacher could give out homework from a wireless network to all the students. Textbooks could be updated automatically on them easily-for a fee of course.

    Still, one of my greatest joys in life is cruising around a nice bookstore (preferably one with used books). Finding a few great treasures can put a smile on me for days. I may purchase an electronic reader some day but I will always have a place in my life for a few books.

  3. Oh, I always say that I'll never do Kindle or the like because there is something special about holding a book and rubbing it between your fingers. I love to see the books lined on my shelves like familiar old friends...but if there is going to be a good reason for me to cave in, I guess it will be for my kids and their education!

  4. I think there should be room for both. One of the basic skills for young students studying (history, math, whatever) is being able to look up an answer to a question, find it, and write it down. When I think of them flipping pages, putting in pieces of paper to mark the pages, then making a decision, I find it hard to imagine that kind of intimacy with a laptop.
    I do research on a computer, write answers in a spiral, and it works, but it's cold and analytical. When I really need to study the material in depth--off I go to the library for a "real" book.
    Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog--love yours!

  5. I love books, but it is very hard to convince a 10 year that they should love books as well...
    At the pace that science is progressing I really don't think there will be a question that this will happen.
    I know for elementary school kids at least, they hardly/ if ever, take their textbooks home, so maybe they would just keep their little laptops at school as well.