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Posted: Monday, November 4th 2013 at 10:20pm

Textbooks, technology, and teaching parents studied by Gainesville School Board

By Marc Eggers Staff
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Jamey Moore
GAINESVILLE – The Gainesville City School Board discussed at Monday night’s meeting that educating parents might need to be a part of their near term strategy.

"Was there something there to convince parents and grandparents that this is okay…that in lieu of a textbook in Johnny’s back pack…that this is okay?" Board member Sammy Smith asked Jamey Moore, Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

Moore had just finished demonstrating some of the capabilities that electronic digital textbooks offer, eliciting expressions of amazement from Board members.

"Because," Smith continued, "“we’ve got a huge learning curve…we’ve got to convince them that this is okay."

Smith was shaking his head like most of the adults in the room, in awe of the fact that expensive, hard copy textbooks would very soon become as extinct as dinosaurs.

Students would be using handheld devices similar in appearance to an Apple iPad. The system is already in place at the new Fair Street School where students leave the devices at the school at the end of the school day, but that policy might soon change as remaining insurance and legal aspects are resolved.

"I’m amazed with my children," Chairwoman Maria Calkins interjected, "that they never print anything."

"Look at us up here with all this paper," Calkins said shuffling through the stack of paper in front of her. "We love the paper. We need to have the paper."

"There is a big gap and I agree. I think we need to figure out how to communicate that," Calkins added.

"I agree, when all of a sudden the backpacks are going home empty, they are going to think it’s the budget," Calkins said. "And we’re going to say, 'No. It really is the best.' But how are we going to do that?"

"When you buy a textbook you’re stuck with that textbook for six years," Moore explained.

"The difference with the digital textbook is that it updates immediately. So any changes that occur are updated real-time. And the pricing structure is much lower than what we have paid traditionally for textbooks."

"This is happening with or without us," Moore added.

Moore demonstrated to the amazement of the Board how the digital textbooks included videos, had the ability for teachers in insert a customized quiz, allowed students to take digital notes which were turned into study cards, and even allowed each class to design the layout and content of the textbook best suited for their class.

No doubt the students will pick these nuances up quickly. Those of us who are parents might need a bit more tutoring, but the future of education is here.

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