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GCPS Phasing In All-Digital Classrooms

eCLASS to begin pilot program in the fall in the state's largest system.

Next on the technology hit list: school textbooks. Just ask the Gwinnett County school system.

It's "pretty much the goal" for textbooks to become a thing of the past, according to GCPS Chief Information Officer Scott Futrell, who briefed school board members on the eCLASS initiative at a recent work session.

Not only does the system want to keep student instruction from falling behind, but the technology initiative would be cost-effective, board members were told.

The current textbook model "is not working," school system Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost said. He noted that the system has not funded texbook adoption in the past three years for budget reasons; it normally would run $25-30 million annually.

"Technology is not inexpensive," Cost said, but he said that eCLASS would lower overall cost, increase return on investment and increase student achievement.

By the time the system goes through textbook adoption, a lot of that information is outdated, officials noted.

This fall, the GCPS, the state's largest system with 162,000 students, will begin a pilot program for eCLASS in six schools: two high schools, two middle schools and two elementary schools (none have been announced). The complete rollout is expected to take three to five years.

Access would be through a single portal, and content would be "agnostic," Futrell said, meaning that it could be taken not only from GCPS curriculum but outside sources, such as NASA or a university.

"We will be housing the cloud," Futrell said.

Board members like the idea. Without eCLASS, "we'd be left behind," Louise Radloff said.

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