Are Textbooks Useless?

Teacher Magazine recently published the article Technology-Rich Classrooms Render Textbooks Useless, that exemplifies a classroom in Kansas that has completely replaced textbooks with technology.  In this class, lessons are taught through the use of various multimedia resources, which “are more interactive and, teachers say, more engaging.”

Through a grant from the Kansas Department of Education, this technology-rich classroom is equipped with a SMARTBoard, digital cameras, scanners, and a wireless laptops for each student.  Rather than having a physical math, science, social studies, and English textbook, students can instead access their schoolwork from educational websites and use the internet to do research for various projects.

According to several students in the class, they prefer this method of learning since it is new, exciting, more hands-on, and since “you sometimes go to new places on the Internet.”  The teachers in this class also state that they have had fewer behavior problems since the students are so engaged in the material.

What would the pros and cons of such a classroom be in your school?  Would students benefit from being so surrounded by technology, or would they lose out by never using physical books?  What type of training would you need to be able to put this classroom ideal into practice?

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