FCC pushes to replace textbooks with tablet computers in schools

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski and Education Secretary Arne Duncan hosted a discussion on Thursday with technology executives and education groups on the topic of replacing textbooks with tablet computers in schools.

LEAD Commission formed

Building on the National Education Technology Plan released by the US Department of Education in November 2010 and the National Broadband Plan released by the FCC in March 2010, experts from the areas of education and technology have formed the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission.

Currently one of the main goals of the LEAD Commission is to develop the blueprint for K-12 schools to make the transition to interactive digital textbooks in five years.

FCC ongoing campaign

Thursday’s meeting with senior executives and other leaders from the worlds of education and technology is one of many events in recent months to push their plan to replace paper text books with digital tablets.

Back on February 1, 2012, the FCC sponsored the Digital Learning Day National Town Hall Meeting to discuss transitioning K-12 schools to digital learning.

One Laptop per Child (OLPC)

A computer for every student has been pitched in the past as the price of an individual computer continues to drop.

There are initiatives such as the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project, where the effort was on producing a digital device for around $200. OLPC is supported by two U.S. non-profit organizations to oversee the creation of affordable educational devices for use in the developing world.

Digital textbooks off target?

The FCC program emphasis is on the cost savings of digital textbooks over traditional text books.

Many questions are raised by the plan to replace textbooks with tablet computers in schools.

In our previous article, in reaction to the statement that many consider Internet access a human right, Vinton Cerf responded, “But that argument, however well meaning, misses a larger point: technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself. “

Do we have the same well meaning but off target planning in the case of replacing textbooks with tablet computers in schools?

Is the use of tablet computers technology merely for the sake of technology? Instead of focusing on using low cost tablets for digital textbooks, would it not be better to focus on having students understand the use of more powerful technology tools that allow them to be creative and more productive?