Future Learning
A (Electronic) Textbook Case of Disruption

Schools are starting to take advantage of cheap tablets and open-sourced learning materials to give their students touchscreen, on-demand textbooks that—and here’s the kicker—can save school districts millions of dollars every year. The WSJ reports:

[A} growing number of districts nationwide [are] embracing “open educational resources,” or OER, for kindergarten through 12th grade. These are typically materials in the public domain or released under an intellectual property license that allows teachers to use, remix and repurpose them for free. Supporters see this shift as giving teachers more leeway to be creative, though some skeptics warn the resources can be of inconsistent quality. […]

Teachers say these resources are often more engaging and up-to-date than commercial textbooks and their digital versions, and make it easy to pull in different lessons for students of a wide range of abilities. Some see OER as a cost-saving boon for students in poor districts.

Like any disruptive new technology, these “open educational resources” have a long road ahead of them to public acceptance. Along the way, they’ll have to navigate quality concerns, legacy teachers and administrators resistant to change, and a host of unforeseeable challenges that are sure to surface.

But this is what progress looks like, and if it can bring more current and gripping teaching materials into the hands of students at a fraction of the cost, we wish it the best of luck.

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