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New Report Urges Schools To Make Leap to “Digital” Textbooks By 2017

Monday, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) released a new report detailing the influence of recent technologies — such as digital content and open educational resources (OER) — on the nation’s textbook industry.

Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age examines the trends shaping the multi-billion dollar instructional materials industry, offering specific recommendations for educators and government agencies to maximize resources and improve student outcomes as many manufacturers and publishers shift towards digital services and products. 

SETDA’s key recommendation is that state agencies and school districts make committed plans to shift from print to digital materials within the next “textbook” adoption cycle, preferably executing the transition within a five-year window.

Although the report states that such a transition is “a daunting task,” the authors suggest that it is a necessary one. “If we are serious about offering a college and 21st century career-ready education for all students,” the report concludes, “we do not have the luxury of further delay.”

The new report is comprised of insight and strategies from several publishers, policy experts and state education technology leaders. SETDA Executive Director Douglas Levin says that a shift towards digital instructional materials is not only inevitable, but imperative for both students and educators. 

“Many schools today purchase both print and digital instructional materials in a duplicative and uncoordinated fashion, with far too little attention to quality and value for money,” Levin is quoted in a recent press release. “If the shift to digital instructional materials is not made immediately, major funding will continue to be directed to traditional materials that will tie the hands of students and educators to static, inflexible content for years to come.”

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