Going Beyond the Textbook

'box of medical textbooks' photo (c) 2007, Patrick - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

What is the role of the textbook in education today? What should the role of the textbook be in education today?  How do you envision a textbook of the future to function? What kinds of digital resources are most appealing to students? These are several questions that I would like your thoughts on.

My memories of textbooks go back to high school and college and not much before that. Some adjectives I would use to describe them are: static, heavy, and boring. Textbooks now have the capability to be so much more; especially with the vast amount of content that now exists on the web. We aren’t confined to a physical book any longer being the summation of knowledge on a topic. We are also at a place where we can easily interact with more than just the classmates and teacher in a physical space for 45 minutes a day.

I am fortunate to have been invited by the Discovery Education team to join them  for their 2nd Beyond the Textbook forum taking place March 27 and 28. The event will be at Discovery Communications global headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Over the course of the two days I will be meeting with Discovery Education team members, as well as collaborating with about 20 very smart educators from North America on shaping the future of digital resources. I am very honored to get to be there and excited to be part of these conversations. Discovery has some incredible resources out there for teachers and students and a big hat tip goes to them for their commitment to continually make them better.

So what would you share with the team at Discovery Education? What do you want this to look like for our students? Please feel free to post comments here or use the hashtag #BeyondTextbooks on Twitter to join the conversation.

I would greatly appreciate any comments you have about the future of digital resources.

6 thoughts on “Going Beyond the Textbook”

  1. Kyle,
    I think its great that you are going to be involved in a larger discussion on what the future of digital resources could (and should) look like. In my opinion there are two important aspects which need to be included. First and most importantly, is that these resources should be authored by students themselves. If others do the “heavy lifting” and create the resource, then these digital resources have the potential to be fancy electronic versions of those old static books we remember from when we were in school. Secondly, these newer digital resources must be flexible. Anyone who has heard stories of students from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s having to throw out books that said man hadn’t been to the moon yet knows what I’m talking about. Revision and discussion should be central aspects of newer generation digital resources. This way they can remain as relevant as possible in our ever changing world.
    Jasper Sr.

  2. I would hope that you might emphasize that the digital instructional materials be created in a way that will make them usable by all learners, including those with disabilities. What we don’t need are new barriers to learning for the student population that is most in need of the supports and scaffolds that can be provided by accessible digital learning materials.

    Oh, and by the way, congratulation on having been selected for this important meeting. And, I do realize that I didn’t really respond to your question. Take care.


  3. Kyle,
    Great post and it moves the reader to reflective pause. Our future is very exciting and at the same time very nimble. New developing technologies will impact teaching and learning in ways we can any envision. The tradional books, or “basal”, will find itself draconian even quicker than it does today.
    Chad Smith

  4. I tell my students to take their textbooks home and put them where they study as a reference. I utilize blended learning in the classroom with lots of group work and discussion time. I have found the students are much more receptive to asking questions and participatin in class

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