I was recently asked why Chadron High School still ordered textbooks for a couple of classes since we have iPads available for students. I thought I'd take the time in this article to respond for the public.
Schools mostly agree that there is not a huge savings in overall costs from textbook purchases when implementing a 1:1 technology format for students. Generally, any money saved from less orders of textbooks is spent in the purchase of 1:1 devices, network infrastructure, or software. The greatest savings from a 1:1 program is in paper and copier toner expenses. Also, we need to keep in mind that our 1:1 iPad initiative is voluntary, not every student has chosen to accept an iPad.
When updating textbooks, we use a yearly rotational cycle of our many departments. This year our Social Studies department was due on this rotation. We ordered an updated text for US History which is the required junior-year class offering. One of our goals was to explore an 'ebook' offering for a text, at this time many publishers are not offering ebooks at much of a discounted rate versus a hard copy text. We were able to find a publisher that offered both versions (ebook and hard copy) for the same cost. We are excited to see how this format benefits students in the availability of interactive lessons.
We believe a physical text for US History is still important for assigned work and due to the poor shape of the old texts, they really needed replaced. In addition, our juniors are now taking the state's NeSA Social Studies tests and we want to ensure that our students are provided the most current material aligned to the state standards. As with any class, these textbooks are not the curriculum for the course, they provide a guide for the course as well as homework and practice sets with many assessment resources. Textbooks still need the support of supplemental resources which vary from activities, labs, discussions, or a multitude of digital formats.
However, we did not order any textbooks for our other Social Studies classes such as, Government, World History, Geography, Civics, Psychology, or Sociology which are all in this same rotational cycle. I felt this was a great savings in the purchase of textbooks for this department.
The only other textbook order this year was a specific computer certification class (A+) which we have not been able to offer for many years. A+ is a computer class designed to prepare students for a year-end certification test. Our teacher and Student Liaison visited with other Nebraska teachers last spring to determine if we needed the books for this class. We agreed to purchase the textbooks after we learned that this course does not have an ebook offering and that the text is needed to guide students through the complete program in preparation for the certification test.
With only 5 1/2 months of iPad use in the building, I think we are doing a very good job of developing digital supplements for our curriculum. Again, we need to keep in mind that iPads are deployed on a voluntary basis, some parents are still 'wary' about the iPads and some find it a financial burden to insure or pay deductibles for insured devices. At this point, not every student has an iPad.
So, we are seeing some savings from our 1:1 iPad initiative in textbook orders but we've noticed even more savings in paper and copier toner expenses. Our Tech Department estimates that we may have reduced these costs by close to 70% for our high school this past year.
More important than savings is student preparation for tomorrow's world. We are confident that the digital blending of instruction in the classrooms is better preparing students for future jobs, training, and educational preparation. We are excited to venture into our first full year of our 1:1 initiative as we continue to explore new ideas to offer instruction and digital skills for students and staff.