Huntsville school board says bye-bye to old textbooks and hello to new digital curriculum

Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski approves transition of textbooks to new digital curriculum via laptops (The Huntsville Times/Robin Conn).

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The Huntsville school board on Thursday moved forward with its plan to implement digital textbooks via laptops throughout the district.

It will cost the district about $3.2 million in the first year, which includes professional development and project management support. Superintendent Casey Wardynski during Thursday’s board meeting said that number will “ween down” to $2.5 million annually afterward for the proposed six-year contract.

But a concern is teachers will have to learn to move from books to digital and apply new teaching practices.

“It’s a process,” said Wardynski, who added the district doesn’t have sufficient funds to purchase an inventory of new textbooks. “Once you go down this road, it’s like an iPhone or Android phone.

“It’s always improving and unfolding new capabilities,” he said. “The content will always be fresh compared to an old textbook.”

Mark Jamison, an education, technology and implementation manager for Pearson Education, an education services company, said a seven-person team will live and work in Huntsville for two years to assist teachers in the transition process. He also says the change will not be easy, but “substantial change is never easy.”

“We’re bringing in a team to get teachers comfortable with the digital curriculum,” Jamison said. “We want to make sure we provide those teachers with the support they need so the kids can use the technology in a meaningful way so they’re engaged.

“And that every student has the same equal opportunity through the digital curriculum so that everyone can move forward,” he said.

Wardynski said teachers will be able to pick up their new devices in the coming weeks. Also, three days will be allotted in August before the 2012-13 school year where a project management team will coach teachers.

via School board says bye-bye to old textbooks and hello to new digital curriculum via laptops, tablets |

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