An all-digital school means no more books, no more heavy backpacks full of textbooks, and no more lockers to store those books. It also means saying goodbye to a lot high school accoutrements like highlighters, pens, and notebooks. And it's already becoming a reality at an all-boys Catholic school in New York.
"No one else in the country has this," Lisa Alfasi, an account manager at Pearson, a tech/educational company told USA Today. Pearson partnered with Archbishop Stepinac High School in West Plains, N.Y. and helped turn the school into one of the country's few all-digital schools. Stepinac's K-12 students are now connected, either through tablet or laptop, to the school's library and have access to 40 textbooks needed for any class,"not to mention all sorts of note-taking, highlighting and interactive features."
For students that means shedding 35-lb. backpacks full of texts, less money spent on books in general ($150) and a whole new way of doing homework and studying. "It's not only lighter, but you're mobile ... You can bring your computer to your friend's house, wherever, and you're all set," one student said, while another added that it's easier having a book read to you: "Listening to a book might not be the worst thing in the world." And those math problems, become a whole lot easier when you have the teacher's notes right in front of you:
A teacher can show a page from a digital book on an interactive whiteboard at the front of the class or send students a link to a particular math problem, with the teacher's notes added in.
For the rest of America, it's the first-look at what education looks like with the gradual extinction of print—something that we've seen taking place little by little over the past few years thanks to the friendlier prices of e-readers and the growing prevalence digital "learning centers" at schools.
So while some will say this is ruining education, it's more like education is keeping up with the times. In April 2012, for example, the Pew Research Center found that 21 percent of Americans have read an e-book—and since then, the number has grown. Bookboon, a site dedicated to e-books, estimated in March that almost 50 percent of Americans planned to buy an e-book in 2013.
The one drawback is that this cutting-edge way of learning is something that, for now, is much easier for a private school like Stepinac. "There is so much politics involved in the public schools when it comes to a move like that, needing approval from boards and committees," Dennis Lauro, executive director of the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, which provides tech support to public schools in New York told USA Today. Sorry, public school kids, scoliosis it is.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.