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I have been hearing more and more of the inevitable march toward new technologies in the classroom. Last night on NPR they noted that Arne Duncan, the Sec of Education was pushing to eliminate paper textbooks
"challenged schools and companies to get digital textbooks in students' hands within five years. The Obama administration's push comes two weeks after Apple Inc. announced it would start to sell electronic versions of a few standard high-school books for use on its iPad tablet."

The NPR story pointed out that South Korea, with the world's most ubiquitous highspeed networks, plans to eliminate paper textbooks by 2015!

Tonight on the way home, NPR had a story on BYOD (Bring your own device). They highlighted a school in NH that lets kids bring and use their devices in class. They have realized that it is as inevitable as the adoption of calculates in class back in my generation. I can still remember people older than myself bragging about how they used slide rulers, which was a true "skill" (but totally useless in the age of calculators). The school understands there can be problems and is taking the opportunity to teach kids about social network responsibilities and to use their tools properly. But they say they know the interactive devices are here to stay and they must adapt. They understand kids use these at home for their school work, so it is silly to take it away from them at school.

There are costs, growing pains, and inequities the must be resolved, but there is no turning back. The cheese is moving, move with it or starve is the message.

Think about the future of text books, where a good one can be purchased online for the price of an app, say $5 per student. My college books were $200, I imagine elementary school books are $50 each or more. Also imagine that you find a factual error after publication, you could update it and it would be downloaded like an app update! How can you sell a "book" for $5 or $1? volume, volume, volume, Right now, you have a publisher middle-man who takes a cut, buys the paper stock, stores them in warehouses, ships them to schools, etc. Imagine you are a great teacher and writer and you write your own book to sell for $1. Imagine 100,000 students or 1 million buying your book. Imagine open source text books - easy for a non-changing subject like addition. Imagine rich media teaching with videos, audio and text to better teach a subject. With links to more detailed data online for those that want to learn more on their own.

A comedian, Louis CK recently did something like this. He recorded one of his stand-up acts and sold it online for $1. Cost about $0. He was doing the show anyway, just uploaded like any video. 100,000 people paid $1 for it. Welcome to the web.

Yes, it is just a tool, but a powerful one. The schools and teachers that figure out how to leverage this best are going to be the ones that provide the best advantage for their students. Technology is cool!

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