Technology—Gaining Ground in Schools

Is technology butting in where it doesn’t belong? That may be a question many parents might be asking, especially when they see that their kids are reading chapters from textbooks through their IPhone. A number of cases prove that it might be time for more schools and students to get on the bandwagon with changing technology.

CourseSmart, San Mateo, Calif., already offers textbooks as eTextbooks for both instructors and students, and has even added the option of having eTextbooks on Apple’s IPhone.

Flat World Knowledge, Inc., Nyack, N.Y., also offers access to books online. Professors can customize the books according to classroom lectures and students have the option of viewing them for free or buying them. According to the company, this fall semester, 38,000 college students at 350 colleges are enrolled to utilize Flat World textbooks, up from only 1,000 in the spring 2009 term at 30 colleges. In response to instructor and student demand, the company has increased the number of titles under development and by summer 2010 will have 50 titles in development, up from the current 32 titles in development.

Sure, kids would appreciate not having to lug huge textbooks around school campus daily, but is there an even balance between the pros and cons of having a textbook handy versus reading a chapter from your IPhone? Let’s consider some pros/cons:

Pros to having the actual textbook versus IPhone Access
• More handy-able to flip through chapters right away instead of having to wait for your IPhone to load a page in a chapter.
• Can bring it everywhere you go and still have access to it versus with a cell phone, there being a slight chance that you might not have a wireless connection in a particular location.
• Able to make notes in the textbook (of course, if you own it and are not planning on getting the same amount for it if you were to sell it).

Pros of having eTextbook access from your IPhone
• Cost-savings—no need to pay huge sums for a book that you may only use once in your life, or might not even use in the classroom; application is free from Apple’s App store.
• Easier to carry around. There’s no hassle in carrying a bunch of heavy books around all day.
• Staying up-to-date with changing technology in the classroom.

Yet, schools and students are not limiting themselves to just being able to access books online either; DePaul University is set to offer a journalism class this fall focused on Twitter, according to a report in the Chicago Sun Times. The class is called "Digital Editing: From Breaking News to Tweets,” and will focus on how to confirm and evaluate reports by citizen journalists, particularly in cases of breaking news. DePaul has a number of campuses in the Chicago and surrounding suburbs area.

Whether parents agree or disagree with the different ways technology is being implemented into their child’s education, it’s safe to say that changes in society can only continue to move forward, especially that of advancements in technology continuing to impact education. And parents might just have to get used to it.

Natalia Kosk
Assistant Editor, Security Dealer & Integrator