Thursday, January 31, 2013

Today's Big Idea: The Death of Textbook Companies

I am going to throw this out as something that I have been mulling over in our science office. This year we went to a 1:1 initiative as many schools in Iowa and across the nation are doing. When those above my pay grade sold our board and parents on the need for this initiative they told of all the money that they would save when not having to buy textbooks. The devices would almost pay for themselves was the message.

Here is the reality. Textbook companies are there to make money. They all offer reduced textbook rates for their ebooks, but there is a catch. The $15 book that you bought only lasts you one year. You have to spend another $15 the next year for the same book (albeit updated we hope) for another student. We were on a 5-7 year cycle for printed textbooks that cost us $60-$85. That is $85 over 7 years. Spending a small amount every year cost us almost the same money!

Here is the big idea. WRITE OUR OWN!

If I had my wish I would get about 15 of us science teachers (or math or whatever) together for a week in the summer. We would sit down with the new standards, our labs, ideas, and technology and develop a curriculum that was actually made by teachers with activities that work and are malleable and scale-able to different classes. We then meet periodically throughout the year to go over what is working or not and make changes.

Here are some of the specifics I was looking at.

  1. The text would include various technologies... text, video, animation, activities, and problems integrated into the materials.
  2. It needs to be usable on numerous devices (iPad, Chromebook, computer, etc)
  3. It needs to be free for all to use
  4. It needs to be based on some kind of sound fundamental teaching principles (inquiry, modeling, learning cycle, a mix??)
  5. It needs to cover the standards that students are being measured against. 

Now I realize that there are things out there that we can use. The Physics Classroom is GREAT and I use it for my text in physics. There are great videos already done on the Khan Academy and other such sites that can be integrated. What about chemistry? Astronomy? Math? Can we do this across the board? 

If anyone is interested in actually trying this, please comment. I can, and probably will create materials for my class that can be used on these devices. What I am looking for are other ideas and to share the wealth. There is no reason we need to pay for texts anymore when students have the internet in their hands.

Chris Like