The Digital High School


How far has digital learning gone? Well, apparently there’s one school in upstate New York that has eliminated textbooks altogether. According to this piece at USA Today:

[Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y.] has become one of the first high schools in the country to drop all textbooks like dead weight and replace them with a “digital library.” When students started classes Monday, they were zipping to an app or website on their tablet or laptop and had instant access to all 40 texts in the Stepinac curriculum, not to mention all sorts of note-taking, highlighting and interactive features.

Stepinac officials worked for a year with Pearson, the education company that has long dominated the textbook world, to design and create a unique digital library that is bound to be studied by other private and public schools.

According to the article in the past a student’s family had to pay “up to $700 a year on textbooks.” But this year students only have to spend $150 to use tablets with a specially designed app to access the entire digital library.

As the principal said “I know this will sweep the country. If we can be at the genesis level, the beginning, I can say that we are preparing every student for college.” And this “may actually be cheaper.”

Well, perhaps, but students also have to own the tablet. And an iPad can cost $500. It’s true that in the Stepinac case students are probably paying less, but the average public school district pays nothing like $700 per student per year on textbooks. It buys the textbooks in bunk and can reuse them for a decade.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer