Well written and accessible electronic texts are the holy grail of the digital classroom, and now, an otherwise traditional public school in Tucson, Arizona, Empire High School, has issued Apple iBooks to each of its 340 students, making the notebooks a core component of the academic environment. Students will have access to electronic text books, rather than printed texts.
Almost a thousand school districts nationwide use an integrate digital resources into the traditional classroom environment, but Empire HS has leaped ahead of other secondary schools and following the model set by post-secondary institutions such as the cutting-edge University of Phoenix, which offers fully-digital academic resources for both students and faculty: all texts and classroom resources are delivered electronically in a number of digital formats, including Adobe Acrobat PDF.
Students at Empire HS will receive course materials through the school’s wi-fi network, and homework can be submitted electronically. Web-based filtering systems help students and faculty maintain academic honesty by keeping an eye out for plagiarized material.
I’ve been implementing digital resources in the classroom since the late 80s; however, it wasn’t until four years ago that I experienced how effective both online and digitally-supported classrooms can be. At the University of Phoenix, students in my classes frequently arrive to the first workshop having downloaded the course syllabus and the first week’s readings. The days of having students arrive to class with the excuse that their textbook was out of stock at the bookstore are long gone. Now, both the students and I have access to all course materials just as soon as we’re scheduled for the course. Now, there is no excuse for not completing all assigned readings before the first class starts.
I was excited to see that my daughters’ middle school has webspace for each teacher. I hope by next year, when my oldest daughter starts high school, she’ll find a digitally-supported classroom, just like the 340 lucky students at Empire High School.
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