Digital Textbook Playbook

Corresponding with Digital Learning Day, the FCC (with collaboration from miscellaneous government groups) released a Digital Textbook Playbook for encouraging and helping districts to embrace digital technology as a way to enhance education. President Obama also mentioned the goal of having digital textbooks common in schools in the near future. This all occurred shortly after Apple announced their intentions of boosting the digital textbook market.

With the frequent media focus on digital textbooks, I thought I would compare my Spanish Techbook (created over two years, including 4 months of best practice research) with the findings and suggestions of the FCC in their Digital Textbook Playbook. They might have had a much larger budget and more people to research, but I got tons of feedback from students and parents at each stage of the process, that is an advantage I had over government research groups.

What the playbook says: How Spanish Techbook incorporates this already (or what could be modified):
Accelerate the development of digital textbooks and improve the quality and penetration of digital learning in K-12 public education. The Techbook was an independent endeavor when I was disappointed by the lack of free or low cost options to utilize in my Spanish classroom.
The Playbook is designed to help K-12 school educators plan for the transition to a rich, interactive, and personalized digital learning environment. Part of my goal was to model for other teachers how to create digital resources.
Device perspectives
A true digital textbook is an interactive set of learning content and tools accessed via a laptop, tablet, or other advanced device.
The Techbook was created on Weebly, which automatically creates a mobile version of the website. This is perfect since students use netbooks and iPod Touches in class and could access the site from any device outside of the classroom.
Perspectives of key users should be considered: in particular, students, teachers, and parents. Teachers, students, and parents will identify flaws in the plan and can help identify solutions. I had three different stages of testing for the techbook before the full scale implementation. I sought the advice of students and teachers. Parents were provided the links to the resource and also given a comment box so they could say what they liked or what concerned them.
The digital textbooks envisioned will come in an ever-evolving
variety of technological and instructional variations to meet diverse educational needs and interests.
The Techbook looks like a finished product, but it is constantly being adapted – both for the specific needs and interests of the students and for new technology options.
New digital textbooks
will be light digital devices – such as a laptop or tablet –
that combine Internet connectivity, interactive and  personalized content, learning videos and games, and other creative applications to enable collaboration with other students while providing instantaneous feedback to the student and teacher.
Check, check, check. All of these elements can be found. I found the same necessary elements in my preliminary research for the ideal learning tool to aid students with learning and connecting to the content.
Digital textbooks can revolutionize teaching and are not simply the digital form of static textbooks. Students can learn in whatever way that best suits their particular learning style. They can read digital text, access multimedia, engage with instructional software and learning apps, and synthesize and communicate in multiple mediums. The revolutionizing part is choice. Students often know what they need to review to get personalized feedback from or how they like learning. There is frequently time built into the lesson that allows them to choose how they want to review the current topic (or related past topics that they do not feel like they mastered). My classroom frequently looks like organized chaos, but it is not true chaos because students can explain why they are doing the activity they are.
A modern day approach to digital learning is a personalized experience that dynamically identifies and addresses each student’s unique learning needs in a manner appropriate to their learning interests, styles, and aptitude, and does so anytime and anywhere. See above – same response.
Digital learning
educates students using the same technology they use for communication and entertainment outside of school – smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
The school district is moving to BYOT – so it is literally the same device that they are using at home and in school.
Monitors student performance The Techbook combines digital tools across the web. There are aspects that students need to log into, so their results will be submitted. The advantage to having it embedded in the Techbook is students are not confused about where to go, everything is together and logical.
opportunity to learn for ALL students by ensuring access to a full range of tools, resources, content, and courses regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status, as long as the student has access to broadband at home. The Techbook is not password protected. It is available for anyone to use. Occasionally I check the use statistics. I can tell when another school utilizes the resource because it will jump to double the normal views. The day with the single most views was actually a day my district had no school.
Digital content is always up-to-date and virtually infinite, supporting a wide variety of interests and topics. Updating the Techbook takes less than 5 minutes, so it be, and is, updating frequently. If the students were to ask for more information about something cultural or more detailed notes on a grammar concept, that could be updated before they got to their flex period to check it out.
Teachers are critical to the success of any significant change in education. They should be involved in the planning and rollout of digital learning, and help identify the tools and content, training, and support they will need to fully support their teaching and their students’ learning. Teachers were involved in all the phases of the roll out. I did not just include foreign language teachers, but all the teachers in my building.
Access more resources and data to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and relevancy. Give immediate feedback on ideas, concepts or work that students have done, in a confidential manner. Most of the games and the practice activities on the Techbook give students feedback immediately. If they got it wrong, it highlights why. For work submitted to the teacher through the Techbook, the students are able to receive personalized, real-time feedback in the form of private comments.
The last three areas have growth potential:
Allow students to become experts and contribute to their learning materials by responding to them in real time and
adding to the pool of knowledge (i.e., Wikis, blogs and interactive video textbooks)
The students do have an opportunity to contribute and publish their learning through a variety of online tools, especially Edmodo and Voicethread. There should also be ways to develop the authorship of content the students have in the techbook.
Redefine learning materials as interactive video, text, or voice media. There is audio and video, but I want to find ways to incorporate more, especially if I can have the students create it.
Push students to the highest levels of thinking: evaluation, analysis, and creation. Having students answer even simple questions in a foreign language is a higher level of thinking, but there would be value in providing more changes for students to evaluate, analyze, and create.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
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3 Responses to Digital Textbook Playbook

  1. Debbie Lynn says:

    Not only were you way ahead of the government research, you always have the best interests of your students at heart. Way to be a leader!

  2. Pingback: Digital Textbook Playbook | Adventures with Technology | The ePub Generation and digital textbooks for future learning. |

  3. Pingback: Adventures with Technology

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