How the Computer will Kill the Textbook

Dennis Faas's picture

When you stop to think about it, the evolution of technology in the modern classroom is truly amazing. Schools have gone from having only a few computers in the entire building to having a few computers in each classroom to using computers as an educational tool when teaching everyday material.

At Boston's Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, over 650 students are given an Apple laptop each day. The teacher simply tells the students which applications to click on, and the class departs on an electronic learning adventure geared specifically to their own unique levels of understanding. The computers track a range of aptitude levels, allowing teachers to accommodate their lessons to suit the weakest areas of comprehension.

While most classrooms have used some form of technological integration in the past, this school is one of only a select few using such an instruction style on a daily basis.

The school is so committed to using computers as a modern teaching tool that no textbooks are ever used or offered during the school year. Many within the small Boston community have argued that textbooks become outdated by the time they fall into the hands of students. Using credible Internet sources is the best way to ensure that the material being taught is comprehensive and up-to-date. (Source:

How is the material being handled?

The school encourages both teachers and students to keep up with progress through blogs, while written assignments are submitted in "digital drop boxes" found on the school website. Most of the class work is completed using free applications like Google Docs or Apple iMovie. Even special education programs are available through FASTT Math and other software.

Equipping a school with complete technological integration ends up being a rather costly venture, hovering around the $2 million mark. Since Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School was deemed an "experimental school" their conversion was entirely state funded.

Still, the program is a worthwhile venture for any school when considering the benefits that accompany the conversion. Average attendance climbed to 94 percent from 92 percent, while discipline referrals fell 30 percent. Parents are even encouraged to take an active role in their child's education, instant messaging teachers whenever a problem arises with homework. (Source:

Analysts predict that more than 50 percent of high school courses will be taught online by 2019, up dramatically from the one percent of courses currently being taught online.

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