Bye-Bye Books: Huntsville School Board Votes For Digital Learning
The times are a changin’. Students are now saying goodbye to traditional textbooks in Huntsville, as school board members voted to adopt a digital learning plan Thursday night.
Board members unanimously passed the landmark measure after a brief presentation about how the so-called “paperless model” will work.
The digital plan means all students will be given their own laptop or tablet when they return to school in August in lieu of paper textbooks. The laptops and tablets will allow students to access their assignments in the classroom, at home, or anywhere else with an internet connection. School officials said a trial run in select classrooms this past year proved to be a major hit among students.
Proponents of the digital transition said it puts Huntsville at the forefront of innovative learning, and will also enable teachers to better instruct their students through a new “smart-board” application that allows them to monitor pupil progress in real-time.
School board members told WHNT News 19 that the idea of a laptop for every student may sound expensive, but said that it will actually end up being cheaper than the estimated $5 million the district spent on traditional textbooks every year. Initial estimates report that the digital equipment will cost an average of $3.3 million over the next three years.
“I think it will be great,” said long-time school board member Topper Birney. “Very quickly, it will save money. You don’t know how much we spend on textbooks, and once you buy a textbook it’s out of date the next day.”
Pearson Education is the company that will be supplying all of the digital learning devices to Huntsville City Schools.
Officials said there would be a $35 user fee for all students, which will go into an insurance pool for equipment that is lost or damaged.