Shift to digital textbooks signals step for district

Digital tools are being used more and more by Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. students, but the time when they’ll use only digital textbooks isn’t that far into the future.

The school district began equipping elementary-age students — those in Grades 3 through 8 — with one-on-one laptops in order to meet state requirements for online testing.

In December, the school board approved borrowing $2 million on a 1 percent loan to purchase 4,500 Chromebooks for students in Grades 3 through 8 to provide one-to-one computing.

Now the school district is learning that print textbooks may not be available much longer. An 18-member committee is in the process of making a decision about resources for English Language Arts and World Languages. That recommendation will be made at the school board’s April 13 meeting. Book decisions are expected to serve the district’s needs for six years.

By that time, though, all textbooks could be digital. Textbook companies are saying that they won’t offer text-based resources for much longer as they shift to digital.

The committee recommended in late February adopting a physical textbook but has discussed digital options that could be used as well.

Discussions about digital textbooks are increasingly important because the next step — which will be sooner than later — is apparent: Purchasing enough laptops to meet the needs of all students, not just those at the elementary levels.

Considering how quickly textbook companies are moving toward digital-only resources, also providing one-to-one computing for Grades 9 to 12 will be essential.