(JASMINE LUNAR / EYE OF THE TIGER)
As RJUHSD approaches digital equity through the One-to-One Chromebook Initiative, the district is in prime position to begin using more digital materials to support curriculum.
These resources can come in the form of open-source materials without cost or digital resources with cost, like online textbooks. With digital materials on the rise, why wait for the future to employ these resources when we can begin now?
According to assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Jess Borjon, the district finds itself “catching up” to updated course materials, as textbooks become outdated with age.
Instead of “upgrading” again to current textbooks that will be outdated a decade from now, the district should pursue digital materials. The goal shouldn’t just be to catch up; we should be looking to the future and go the extra mile.
To renew a three-year contract with textbook company Carnegie Learning, RJUHSD spends just over $700,000 to purchase revised Integrated Math textbooks. In comparison, sources such as CK-12 offer online textbooks for a myriad of subjects for free. Updated textbooks are not innovative and may hold education throughout RJUHSD back in the future.
Education is no longer about who can read a textbook and memorize the content. It is about enrichment and ensuring a student’s ability to make connections with in-depth analysis.
And education can only evolve when people are willing to make a series of investments. Time, money, effort — all of these things will allow us to improve. Only when we make those investments do we see a positive effect take place.
Courses like NGSS Biology are proof of this sentiment. While only in its first stage of implementation as the NGSS curriculum looks to expand to Physics and Chemistry, NGSS continues to make huge strides into the future of academia and employment of digital resources, pioneering the way for selecting resources based on which is the strongest to support each unit, rather than relying on the material to guide curriculum.
At the end of the day, curriculum and education require some autonomy and educators should have control over which materials they use to present content to their students. Whether a teacher prefers print materials over digital or vice versa, teachers and departments must present each concept with the resources that best support the curriculum.
While the debate between digital resources and print materials continues, proponents of either side must understand that print materials don’t necessarily mean outdated textbooks.
This can include worksheets and physical packets. Perhaps an updated course like NGSS will not have the same layout as a CP government class, but we must remember that this is the digital era and perhaps the best experiences in education are when varied sources of information are used.
While curriculum may align with the textbook designed for that specific course, digital materials offer more potential, both in learning and in experience.
Digital opportunities given to students through the One-to-One Initiative offers access to an open-source of information and a virtually infinite amount of content on any topic — RJUHSD must maximize its’ use of this technology.
A textbook, outdated or not, cannot even begin to compare to the amount of information that can be found on digital media.
So as we pursue digital equity, let us pursue digital materials – for the sake of the future and for the sake of educational betterment.