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Welcome to EDUC 415's Digital Flexbook

Page history last edited by Lee Adcock 8 years, 7 months ago










Table of Contents


I.          Rationale


II.        The People Speak (video) 





"The point is to embody complexity as well as describe it, to permit the reader some say in how history is conveyed, to create new spaces for exploration" (Ayers, 1999)







    In the spring of 2009 California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced plans for the state to begin development of digital open source textbooks for  high school math and science classes that would be available this fall to public schools across the state (Paul, 2009) .  The main motivation for the digital textbook initiative was to help pull California out of its current economic crisis. The Governor believes the state could save $400 million if its 2 million high school students used digital math and science texts. Schwarzenegger also touts other educational benefits of the initiative such as increased collaboration among school districts, interactive classrooms, and reduced health concerns for students who, on a typical school day, carry 30% or more of their body weight in paper textbooks (Golshani, 2008; Surdin, 2009) . In addition, proponents of the digital initiative argue that much of the cost that goes into traditional textbooks is wrapped up in “hidden” instructional costs such as the instructional time wasted on collecting and maintaining books, students not doing work because they forgot their books, and districts having to spend thousands of dollars to store old books (Salpeter, 2009) .  Therefore, the potential cost savings is significant and a major reason why digital textbooks are beginning to eat into the 6 billion dollar a year business of paper textbook adoption (Heider, Laverick, & Bennett, 2009; Warlick, 2004) . Since California announced its plans for the digital textbook initiative the states of Indiana, Florida, and Texas have chosen to allow districts the flexibility to spend funds previously earmarked for textbooks on digital content (Salpeter, 2009).


       Pedagogically the digital textbook, or the flexbook as some refer to it, can allow students to be “guided travelers” rather than passive learners (Demski, 2009; Kingsbury & Galloway, 2006). As such, textbooks that make learning personalized, interactive and cutting edge can also be viewed as a more contemporary view of the nation’s focus (Heider, et al., 2009) . For others, the benefit of digital textbooks is that they can compete with video games for student’s attention as well as provide a scaffolding model to reach students of all abilities. While publishers of traditional textbooks have carted out “digital textbooks”, which are really just paper textbooks in digital format, proponents of digital textbooks envision a future in which “open source” textbooks become the norm. Open source textbooks would allow districts and teachers to create their own textbooks that reflect their community, their students, and their learning objectives much more realistically than a massed produced textbook from one corporate perspective.   


      In terms of social studies, The National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles defines historical thinking into five parts: chronological thinking, historical comprehension, historical analysis and interpretation, epistemology and evidence, as well as empathy and moral judgment (Levstik & Barton, 2000). In addition, the Social Studies is an active process whereby the student questions, analyzes, and develops their own point of view. By focusing the digital textbook on these skills students can move from passive to active participants in the “doing of history”. Therefore, the creation of an open source digital textbook could be a crucial step in helping teachers develop lessons that allow students to “do history” rather than sit passively and listen to teacher lectures or other traditional pedagogical devices. In other words, the digital textbook should be centered on and around inquiry-based activities that help students understand historical processes and engage their own histories into a broader understanding.

















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