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Textbook Deathwatch

Tech & Learning Volume 30, Number 1, ISSN 1053-6728


Is the print textbook–that old-fashioned, heavy, expensive staple of the 20th-century classroom–soon to be a thing of the past? While it's hard to imagine the K-12 world, known for its resistance to change, throwing out math, language, and science textbooks in favor of digital content, the nation's current fiscal crisis, combined with major shifts in the way people access and process information, is bringing the subject to the fore. In the K-12 world, where schools, rather than families, bear the brunt of textbook costs and budgets are strained to the limit, a number of districts and states are seriously questioning–some for the very first time–whether textbooks are the best use of instructional funds. The states of Indiana, Florida, Texas, and California have all made news in recent months with plans to allow districts the flexibility to spend funds previously earmarked for textbooks on digital content or other educational needs. While some districts and states might be looking at flexibility as a way to free up funds for things that do not qualify as instructional materials, others are primarily arguing that it is possible to get high-quality content in a more engaging format for less money than schools have traditionally spent on textbooks. Many digital textbook approaches can be seen as evolutionary in their nature–representing a gradual transition from text-based to digital content. But there are some educators who would argue for a more dramatic change: doing away with textbooks entirely. This article presents an excerpt drawn from “The Future of Textbooks,” one of six monographs that make up the 2009 Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Compendium.


Salpeter, J. (2009). Textbook Deathwatch. Tech & Learning, 30(1),. Retrieved April 25, 2019 from .

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    Lee Adcock & Cheryl Bolick, UNC Chapel Hill, United States

    Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education Vol. 11, No. 2 (June 2011) pp. 223–236

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