EPISD students begin switch to digital textbooks

When high school students crack open their laptops this fall, the digital books they download will come to life with video and other interactive options. No longer will there be torn pages or dated information.

A team of 100 curriculum writers spent months writing and editing digital core content aligned with state standards, which is housed on the CK12.org website and available for download. Teachers download the digital book and make edits that fit the needs of their lessons.

“It is a priority for EPISD to offer engaging learning experiences,” said David Hohnholt, a high school social studies facilitator for EPISD who helped lead curriculum writing efforts. “ Through the tremendous efforts of our hard working teachers and staff, we have been able to support our students with the skills and tools they need to be prepared for their future.”

Photo: EPISD
Photo: EPISD

The shift from traditional printed textbooks to digital flexbooks, the ability to customize learning and the one-to-one laptop distribution are key elements of the District’s PowerUp initiative. Students can take notes and copy and paste from their digital book, click on words to get definitions, watch videos and participate in interactive labs.

“The EPISD PowerUp initiative offers teachers and students multiple opportunities to expand learning activities beyond the classroom walls,” Hohnholt said.

EPISD’s foray into digital textbooks not only gives students an advantage in 21st century learning, it also represents a significant cost savings for the District.

With books in core content areas costing approximately $100 each, that would equal $400 per year per student. Multiplied by four years, the cost per student throughout their high-school career is approximately $1,600.

The laptops themselves cost approximately $240 each, and are expected to last four years – representing a savings of more than $1,300 per student.

“PowerUp is not about fancy tech tools,” said Tim Holt, EPISD executive director of Blended Learning. “It is about having our students engaged in rich, relatable content, no matter how it is delivered. ”

The goal is to offer the appropriate tools to facilitate student learning, Holt explains.

“By creating these digital textbooks, and then making them available to not only our students anytime and anywhere, we are sending a message to the world that teaching and learning are changing in EPISD.”

Photo: EPISD
Photo: EPISD

Over in a Transmountain Early College High School portable, cheers and applause as freshman Abbie Aguilar claimed the first student-issued laptop. Teacher David Hernandez’s 22 other students waited patiently, as techies scanned Aguilar’s laptop making her the official owner.

“I’m excited that I was the first one in the District to receive a laptop,” Aguilar said. “Having my own laptop is going to give me access to online content, like digital books. I will be able to turn in assignments and stay in contact with the teacher a lot easier.”

The long-awaited PowerUp laptop distribution began today at TMECHS and will continue for the coming weeks at the larger campuses until more than 18,000 high school students receive their digital devices.

Author: EPISD