EBook Stampede

Ebooks are the wave of the future in Florida education. The only question is when will the state make the switch from hardcover textbooks. The state Board of Education is trying to speed up the process. The board wants to get rid of textbooks and go all digital by 2015.

Rob Weissert is an avid reader. He’s known for reading five books at any given time. Before he bought an IPad that meant hauling around lots of paperbacks. “If I get Enterprise Florida’s 2010 economic indicators report and I want to switch from that to a Malcolm Gladwell book or Jeffery Toobin’s “The Nine”, I can do that instantly.”

One office over Katie Haden of Florida TaxWatch uses a Kindle to store her novels. “I find it tougher to go pick up the paperback books I was reading in lieu of the Kindle.”

Both Rob and Katie work for Florida TaxWatch. The nonprofit research group advocates a switch from textbooks to ebooks as a way to improve education in Florida Schools. “The fact is we all know technology is improving by the day, so the idea is these books can be updated more quickly and can be better tailored to individual elements.”

The switch may also save the state money in the long run. This is a library of 150 books. They are Encyclopedias, science books and novels. This e-reader can hold all this information forty times over.

During last months Board of Education meeting members, including John Padget, acted with a sense of urgency over the possibility of a transition to ebooks. “Tell us how fast it could be done technically and tell us what it would cost.”

Schools get new textbooks every six years. Science books are scheduled to be ordered later this year. The board of education may delay the order if a move to ebooks is more cost effective.

A report on the cost effectiveness of switching to ebooks will be delivered at the Board’s February 15th meeting. If the board finds the move feasible they’ll ask lawmakers to pass legislation to begin the transition. There may also be 51 million Race to the Top dollars to help speed us the move.


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