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    Federal Communications Commission Digital Textbook Playbook
     
    Introduction
    Modern information technology has dramatically improved our ability to work, get health care, stay in 
    touch with family and friends, and inform and entertain ourselves. In only a decade, the Internet has 
    fundamentally transformed the way we live as consumers, as citizens, as patients, and as family 
    members. 
     
    However, information technology has been slower to produce meaningful systemic improvements in   
    K-12 education. The dynamic in many classrooms around the country remains decidedly 20th Century: 
    teach the paper textbook, test the students at a fixed point in time, and move on. There also remains a 
    profound disconnect between the learning that happens in school and that which takes place out of 
    school.
     
    Educators are challenged to satisfy the learning needs of today’s diversity of students while meeting the 
    increasingly complex definition of what it means to be educated in the 21st Century. Two recent indepth
    government analyses, the National Education Technology Plan and the National Broadband Plan, 
    called for leveraging the best of modern technology to transform how teachers teach and how students 
    learn and for improving access and equality of opportunity for learners of all ages.
     
    What are digital textbooks?
    In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama said, “I want all students to be able to 
    learn from digital textbooks.” The digital textbooks envisioned will come in an ever-evolving 
    variety of technological and instructional variations to meet diverse educational needs and 
    interests. But they will all have in common digital devices with access to rich, interactive, and 
    personalized content that will encompass the primary toolset in digital learning.
     
    No longer will students have to tote 50 pound backpacks with outdated print textbooks. New digital
    textbooks will be light digital devices – such as a laptop or tablet –that combine Internet connectivity,
    interactive and personalized content, learning videos and games, and other creative applications to
    enable collaboration with other students while providing instantaneous 
    feedback to the student and teacher. Digital textbooks can revolutionize teaching and are not simply the 
    digital form of static textbooks.
     
    Making the Transition to Digital Learning
    A modern day approach to digital learning is a personalized experience that dynamically 
    identifies and addresses each student’s unique learning needs in a manner appropriate to their 
    learning interests, styles, and aptitude, and does so anytime and anywhere. This personalized 
    learning model is made possible by digital learning that leverages persistent connectivity,
    large-scale data processing, and rapidly advancing device capabilities to individually 
    engage every student.
     
    Why make the change?
     
    Effectiveness
    There are many indications that leveraging technology can improve the opportunity for educational  
    access, improve student engagement and achievement, and improve learning productivity: 
     
    • According to the U.S. Department of Education and recent studies by the National Training and
    Simulation Association, technologybased instruction can reduce the time students take to reach a
    learning objective by 30 to 80 percent. According to a  meta- analysis and review of online learning
    studies by the U.S. Department of Education, on average, students in online learning conditions
    performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.
     
    • According to Project RED, a national research and advocacy initiative focused on how
    technology can revolutionize education, continuous access to a computing device for every
    student leads to increased academic achievement and financial benefits, especially when
    technology is properly implemented. 
     
    • Online collaboration contributes to improved graduation rates and other academic improvements,
    according to Project RED

     
    ƒStudent engagement
    Today’s students are “digital natives” – they are growing up in a decidedly digital world. Digital learning
    educates students using the same technology they use for communication and entertainment outside of
    school – smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It is not that students are only engaged by technology, but 
    instead the passive, one-size-fits all education practices are not adequately adaptable to each student’s
    needs and aptitude.
     
    Richer, more personalized classroom experiences
    The digital learning environment has modular lesson plans and content, adapts to individual learning,
    monitors student performance, and encourages small- and large-scale collaborations among 
    students.
     
    Equity
    Digital learning can improve the opportunity to learn for ALL students by ensuring access to a full range
    of tools, resources, content, and courses regardless of zip code or socioeconomic 
    status, as long as the student has access to broadband at home. 
     
    Content
    Digital content includes richly diverse fields of knowledge, supporting opportunities for   
    interaction with materials, resources, and experts beyond the classroom. And digital  
    content is always up-to-date and virtually infinite, supporting a wide variety of interests 
    and topics.
     
    Cost
    Replacing textbooks, as well as tests and other printed materials with digital content often
    includes cost-saving expectations. While not all uses of technology improve cost-effectiveness, 
    properly implemented technology can yield tangible savings in printing, transportation, and
    warehouse costs. These savings are neither immediate nor guaranteed, as establishing a digital 
    learning environment requires significant initial and ongoing investments in planning, bandwidth,
    equipment acquisition and repairs, software, support, and teacher training. The important long-term
    question is the return on investment, looking at costs as well as educational opportunities and outcomes.
     
    Costs and savings
    Cost management is fundamental to making the successful transition to digital learning. According to 
    Project RED (www.projectred.org), the cost of technology implementations can vary widely. For example, 
    the reported cost for 1:1 implementations range from $250 per student per year to more than $1,000 per 
    student per year, measured on a four-year refresh cycle.
    However, cost savings from going digital are estimated at close to $600 per student per year across the 
    following verticals:
     
    ƒ • increased teacher attendance, 
    ƒ • reduced copy and paper costs
    ƒ • using online assessments 
    ƒ • using digital versus print materials
    ƒ • online learning
    ƒ • decreased dropout rates