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09:40 PM on 10/02/2012
At the rate he's going, in the next few years, educated kids are going to be obsolete. C'mon duncean, talk about something that might actually help kids for a change.
Old enough to know better
09:00 PM on 10/02/2012
You are assuming that there will always be electricity to charge these things up. What about homeless children or those 47% moochers who will bw expecting the government to oay for theie Ipads.

The problem with digital is it is subject to hackers, viruses, and crashes. Ever drop an Ipad on the concrete? Do you really expect this generation of electronics won't be obsolete in the next 10 years. I have books that are over 200 years old in my house and I can still read them. Where is youe Ipad going to be?
08:52 PM on 10/02/2012
It comes down to a question of economics. Somebody still has to write the textbooks and will demand to get paid. Unless the government is going to hire can commission text book writers. They aren't going to work cheap. The cost of printing is small.
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08:43 PM on 10/02/2012
If Dunkin' can become obsolete along with the books, I'll support the plan!
08:42 PM on 10/02/2012
I like your ideas Mr. Secretary -- but let's face it -- going digital isn't going to fix poor teaching and uncaring parents who expect their children learn on their own.
El Chingaso
Reality-based infusion.
08:37 PM on 10/02/2012
"Duncan Calls For Textbooks To Become Obsolete"

Glad I have come to ignore just about everything Duncan stands for. He makes about as much sense as...standing out in a rainstorm and complaining about getting wet.

How much was the payoff on this one?
08:39 PM on 10/02/2012
this doesnt exactly refer to digital textbooks, but on how online/digital learning has been pushed by corporations in order to turn a profit, while not really saving our education system or students/parents any money.,0
08:31 PM on 10/02/2012
while a nice idea it doesnt and hasnt saved any money. many of these online/digital textbooks are created and managed by the same companies, that have school districts buy the digital books and then force the district to buy updates every few yrs. it can and has actually cost some districts and nations more money. Further, the idea only works if each student has access to a computer and the internet. It would be nice if each child had access but this currently hasnt happened. the cost of individual computers is extremely expensive, and the hardware and software are going to go out of date every few yrs. It would be nice if computer companies would actually lower these costs, but of course they wont and it will simply lead to added expenses within the school districts and families.
08:06 PM on 10/02/2012
This is the only good idea Duncan has mentioned in his tenure as Education Secretary. Middle school and high school textbooks cost upwards of $90, whereas a district could buy Kindles (or something similar) for $65. Electronic textbooks can be purchased for a dollar each (or less, depending upon who writes the text).

Upon graduation, students in Los Angeles Unified owe over $300 on average due to missing textbooks. If a deposit/insurance system was made mandatory, then the stranglehold that textbook companies have over states could be eliminated and poor students could save tremendous amounts of money.
08:37 PM on 10/02/2012
while nice in theory, no publisher is going to make and sell textbooks via a kindle for a dollar each. in fact, online textbooks are basically the same price, they are just seen in digital form. add in the cost of the computer/kindle and expenditures actually increase. for an interesting take on digital textbooks and learning and how corporations are using it to actually increase profits see:,0
it should be noted that the tech. industry stands to make billions off of such technology driven education and are lobbying hard to move to such platforms.
08:26 AM on 10/03/2012
Is that $65 kindle in color with professional graphic design? A small-screen black and white reader is even more boring than a text book.

And really, textbooks are only boring if you use them in boring ways.
07:37 PM on 10/02/2012
Pay for it, Arne. The kids don't have computers and the schools' budgets are stretched thin already. If tablets or laptops are going to replace books, the money's going to have to come from somewhere else. Since every cent of Duncan's salary is wasted, I suggest he pay out of pocket.

And keep in mind, this isn't a one-time expense. They'll go out of date. New students will need new computers. And in poor areas, you'll have to deal with the fact that a laptop or an iPad is a heck of a lot more profitable to pawn than a textbook is. A textbook can have a usable life of years or decades. I suspect the lifespan of the e-books that Arne claims are the wave of the future will be measured in months. That's an expensive proposition. But since Duncan is 100% for the interests of corporations, not kids, that shouldn't surprise anyone.
Psychology Ph.D., Civics Teacher, Songwriter
07:45 PM on 10/02/2012
higher price and lower quality has been a hallmark of duncan's tenure in education. who ever thought that the obama administration would one-up the second bush in that regard?
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07:29 PM on 10/02/2012
I am all for "digital learning" but beware the downside!

Virtual "texts" can cost as much as a hardcopy. Our system has some great software but it takes up a lot of memory on our computers, so the system crashes frequently. Half the time it takes me three reboots and 30 minutes to get my computer up and running. We bought new laptops, nooks and I-pads, but the server cannot not handle the requirements, thus nothing works.

Everytime we learn a new program, they seem to replace it, making up constantly redo" all the lessons we developed on the old system. We have had three different classroom blog programs, four different e-mail systems, and four versions of our online report card system in tthree years.

When the power goes out we lose the lights, our access to all the daily lessons we have planned, our phone system, our xerox machines, our intercom system and the computer labs. We lose the lunch count system, the attendance system, and the parental contact system.

Last year, the server got overloaded and began automatically deleating files. It ate all the files of teachers with last names starting with the letter "A". We never did manage to retrieve everything.

As they say, technology is great - when it works. When it doesn't... old hats like me pull out a white board and a marker and keep on trucking. My younger colleagues have a much harder time adjusting. :)
Psychology Ph.D., Civics Teacher, Songwriter
07:42 PM on 10/02/2012
exactly, it's got nothing to do with "keeping up" and everything to do with increased profits for the publishers. now instead of charging for new printed materials once every five years, they can charge for updated licenses annually, without the overhead of a full set of textbooks. all those added hours of staring at screens will be no boon to any child's sleep schedule or attention span, and newer teachers won't know what to do with themselves when there's a power outage.
02:25 AM on 10/03/2012
Duncan promotes "digital learning" written in code only involving 0's.
Don Shackelford
07:19 PM on 10/02/2012
The problem with Arnie is that he is obsolete. Instead of focusing on improving public education, he runs Race to the Top competitions for the few and blathers on about digital textbooks. It's all about winners and losers for him, which is essentially a Republican one-percenter's position. Supporting innovation is worthy, so is bolstering the possibilities for all students, looking at inherent inequalities in school funding, helping educators become better and more proficient throughout their careers, to name a few. Think BIG, Arnie.. Think outside the basketball court box you seem to be stuck in.
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07:17 PM on 10/02/2012
You cannot educate people by parking them in front of computers and expecting them to be anything but bots.
Black Democrat
06:24 PM on 10/02/2012
"South Korea, which consistently outperforms the U.S. when it comes to educational outcomes, is moving far faster than the U.S. in adopting digital learning environments. One of the most wired countries in the world, South Korea has set a goal to go fully digital with its textbooks by 2015."

The US can't increase broadband speed above 3MBPS, Korea and Japan are @ 100MBPS with plans to go to 1GBPS.

I guess it's more sexy to dream about digital textbooks but we don't have the money and places like Korea is not trying to educate every illegal alien who just happens to stray into the country. The US has bigger educational problems that they should try and fix first.
01:35 AM on 10/05/2012
Blaming illegals is dangerous thinking. Illegals and legals have the same issues in the classroom regardless of how they got here. Attacking illegals (and legals) is similar to how we attacked and disenfranchised Blacks in the past. Furthermore, we have had immigrants (legal or otherwise) in our classrooms before due to population shifts and booms in the early 1900's. In the scheme of things, they are only a very small piece of the education puzzle.

The bigger problems have to deal with why and how we are educating people for this century, price, role of government in education, school infrastructure (just like the roads many buildings are in bad shape), history of education and how that is preventing us from changing, lack of support for teachers (professional career and job requirements as seen in the Chicago Strike), etc.
Hic Sunt Dracones
06:22 PM on 10/02/2012
Exclusively digital textbooks is a fine idea at the collegiate level, but in public schools it ain't gonna happen!

My guess - the vast majority of school districts could not afford to provide every student with a laptop or a tablet computer. And since so many districts are already providing FREE BREAKFASTS for kids, we can't expect parents to buy the computers.

Not a practical plan. What's next - new entitlements of a computer for every child, and government-provided internet service? Only if billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett agree to provide them gratis.
06:17 PM on 10/02/2012
Its not a good idea. Online reading is only good for a short amount of text. Longer text reading online is not comfortable or good. I don't much like reading off my kindle either. Much prefer a book. The schools these days seem to do everything they can to cut corners, regardless of how much the children are hurt.