At the beginning of October, when speaking to the National Press Club, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called upon the nation to begin moving toward digital textbooks and away from those printed. Fox News has quoted Duncan as saying, "Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete."
Duncan says the nation needs to move quickly toward digital textbooks. Citing more than just keeping up with the times, the U.S. must keep up with other countries, such as South Korea, that are moving faster in adopting totally digital learning environments.
The advantages are plentiful, not the least of which is the reduction in the weight carried by students from classroom to classroom in book bags that sometimes outweigh our first graders. The opportunities for students to get updated materials quickly, as well as savings to school systems when buying the material, are certainly among the advantages to a learning system based upon digital interaction.
And digital is certainly less stress on the environment for many reasons.
Those in education have concerns about already stressed school budgets guaranteeing that every student has a laptop and that it has the correct operating system to interface with the books. And when the particular laptop becomes outdated and refuses to run the new, latest and greatest, what will happen to the equipment? To the information? Let's think about all that data stored on floppy disks.
Maintaining technology might be just as economically cumbersome as those heavy backpacks for a long-term investment. Kindles? Nooks? iPads? PC operating systems or Mac OS? Anyone who even owns a cell phone understands how quickly outdated technology can leave you without the means to communicate.
Ink on paper has been a tried and true means of communication that has far outlasted the stone tablet scenario of cavemen, but is it time for that technology to be replaced? Or should we stick with what is now a digitally enhanced educational experience rather than one that is digitally based?