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Technology's Promise to Education: Reimagining Textbooks

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Technology's Promise to Education: Reimagining Textbooks

Here's an excerpt from my speech at the NAIS Annual Conference on how teaching and learning will be transformed in the decade ahead:

I believe technology can help teachers be more effective and make learning more interesting. I've been watching what's been happening with these technologies very closely. Despite the clear momentum, we are still very early in this movement. There are so many entrepreneurs, so many programs and resources available, it can be challenging to know where to start.

I see four main 'flavors' of online learning: reimagining textbooks, scaling our best teachers, connecting through social networks, and personalizing learning.

Reimagining Textbooks
Many teachers are doing this already by supplementing coursework with material online. It’s about taking information that is traditionally communicated via a textbook, and making it more engaging and interactive.

  • Inkling is focused on turning existing textbooks into interactive learning environments on the iPad. Notes and highlighting are social, hinting at the potential for much greater student collaboration. Assessments provide instant feedback as students test their own understanding.

  • Services like CK-12 make it easy for teachers to assemble their own textbooks. Content is mapped to a variety of levels and standards including common core. You can start from scratch or build from anything the the FlexBooks library.

  • Gooru is making it easier to find and use educational content from across the internet. They've made over 2,600 collections freely available, all curated for quality and aligned to standards by teachers and Gooru's own content experts.

There really is no limit to what teachers can do if they have the right resources. A decade from now, finding and using the best content and technology will be as natural as opening a book. Tablets and high-speed Internet access will be ubiquitous. Each student will have a learning map that helps chart their interests and learning path inside and outside the classroom. And the concept of the textbook will fade—replaced by easy online access to the best lectures and course materials available.

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