Flexible textbooksJuly 6th, 2012 by Dan Barstow
We’re in the midst of a remarkable transition in education – a change that will give teachers more flexibility in the resources they use in their classroom.
The growing role of digital textbooks is gaining momentum. Major publishers are not just converting their textbooks to digital format, they’re also reconceptualizing them, adding a more diverse array of embedded interactives and providing states and districts with the option to pick and choose sections to meet local educational goals.
Think about this for a moment.
We are used to the monolithic textbook package – a basal textbook, lab manuals, CDs and other ancillaries. Each major publisher offers its package. States and districts decide which publisher’s package to purchase. End of story.
But that world is changing. A district might choose several chapters from one publisher and other chapters from a second publisher. From a third publisher, they might select a lab manual that is especially engaging for their students. And they might select multiple online resources to extend student learning.
From the teacher’s perspective, this is potentially liberating. Instead of working through the standard textbook and its aligned support materials, teachers have a richer set of options. They can select resources based on personal expertise, knowledge of their students, teaching style and familiarity with the growing array of digital interactives.
How does Molecular Workbench fit in? MW helps students understand fundamental principles of physics, chemistry and biology, yet it hasn’t always been clear how to fit this into the classroom, as it might seem a diversion from the flow of the textbook.
With a more flexible approach to teaching and learning, science teachers will be able to easily integrate the power of atomic and molecular simulations into their classrooms. This will not be an aberration, but the new norm.
This change will take a few years to fully play out, but it is a welcome transition away from the dominance of the standard, one-size-fits-all textbook and towards freedom to use a robust set of resources – including Molecular Workbench.