During the past school year, South Kent School in Connecticut went completely to digital textbooks on individual student iPads. The teachers were given a few months and a free iPad, then told to take it home over the summer and become familiar with it. Once the teachers began preparing for this school year, they were informed that they would be using the iPad in all of their classes, including with digital textbooks.
“Digital literacy is not the same as it was for my dad,” said recent graduate Delano Williams. “Not only does this teach you a new kind of digital literacy, it taught us digital citizenship.”
Williams went on to explain that looking in books for information provides students with dead information, as opposed to the constantly updating and adapting information that tablets provide. He gave several examples of how content portability and security were greatly improved once the transition to digital happened.
“These students spend 25% of their awake lives online,” explained Phil Darrin, Dean of Academic Affairs. “You have to teach digital citizenship as part of your curriculum. If you don’t reach them online, you’re missing a huge part of their lives.”
Darrin, who also teaches AP U.S. History at the school, explained how this transition has made relevant teaching possible. He illustrated the point with the example of how this year, using traditional print textbooks, he had prepared his lesson plans and developed a timeline of material for the year; however, the Arab Spring evolved this year and all of that turned on its head when there was something of vital current importance to teach. The shift to technology this year made that teaching possible.
“It’s not a matter of if you will adopt ebooks, but when.”