The World Beyond Textbooks and What It Means To Us
Did you all read this article in the New York Times? http://tinyurl.com/l27u8p . Schools are experimenting with moving past the textbook to digital materials. In some cases this is an economic choice, using open source materials instead of texts due to the shortfalls in state education budgets. In some cases it is an effort to provide students with better materials. What we are seeing is a patchwork landscape of experiment — wealthy school districts can count on their students having digital devices, or can provide them for everyone. Other districts are not as fortunate, and so cannot rely on digital materials as a baseline for every students. Obviously some teachers and administrators are going to be more ready, more open, more able to make use of new kinds of materials than others. Sure.
But think of what this means to those of us who write nonfiction trade books for K-12 — we create exactly what teachers need: texts crafted to enage attention, with high standards of accuracy and research. Individually, one by one, we create the materials teachers need. There are just two problems — our books are not textbooks, so they may spend 100 pages on a topic a teacher covers in half an hour. And our books do not come with the surrounding tools to help a teacher and to scaffold the learning process of the student. There is yet another problem of course — our books exist only in print, not as available files, but that is another issue for another blog. The obvious point is that we need to work with teachers, guiding them, learning from them, building with them, perhaps working with groups like http://about.ck12.org/.
I think all of us need to go out into the wild — contact teachers, research organziations like ck12, network with authors, and figure out where we as trade authors fit in this exciting, shifting, opening, new world. Out of the rubble of the economic crash is coming this great moment of opportunity, we just have to figure out how to seize it.