One middle school is completely eliminating math textbooks and will begin a completely digital middle school math program next year. If the project is successful, the digital curriculum will expand to include other schools in the district. They will use tablets and other electronic devices instead.
The pilot program at Cutler Middle School in LIncoln Nebraska will cost the district about $878,000 this year for the curriculum, supporting technology and infrastructure. A tablet will be provided for each student’s use.
Like other school disticts across the country, the Lincoln Public Schools are struggling to navigate the shift from traditional textbooks, paper and pencils, to instruction delivered online. These efforts are often impeded by cost of hardware and inadequate internet and wireless service in many locations. Textbook publishers also are scrambling to survive in the new market.
Making the switch is not as easy as it may seem, and can become complicated.
“The impression that all of this can be done with a flip of a switch is not true,” said Jane Stavem, LPS associate superintendent of instruction. “There’s a lot that goes into doing this well because we don’t want to sacrifice instruction.”
The district made its first big foray into digital instruction last year with a language arts curriculum that offered both digital and traditional instruction materials. And on the digital side there were bumps with both the program itself and wireless access at the district level.
But when it got bumpy they still had books and worksheets. In Culler math classes this fall, it will be all digital from the start.
Part of the reason LPS officials decided to pilot the program schoolwide was their experience putting the language arts curriculum in place. They piloted that curriculum at certain grades at different schools, which didn’t give them the best information about connectivity for a bigger audience.