Textbook technology: Taking classroom resources to the next level

Gary Bryant

Gary Bryant is the UK Manager of ITSI, a digital solution that empowers educators and students by simplifying the teaching and learning experience. Gary has worked in education for a number of years, introducing new and innovative technology solutions across all phases.

Follow @ITSI_UK

Website: www.it.si Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image Credit: TechCrunch Image Credit: TechCrunch

At the latest British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) and Publishers Association Conference, Nick Gibb MP highlighted the importance of high-quality curriculum resources, citing results from the annual PISA reports, which showed that high-performing countries including Singapore and Finland, make far more use of textbooks in the classroom. The UK, on the other hand, has a thriving edtech market. So how can teachers utilise the combined power of the textbook and technology to create effective learning opportunities for students?

Mark of quality

When teachers consider classroom resources, I’m sure the majority look for content that is detailed, filled with practical and real-life examples, and accessible to the whole class, no matter what their specific needs. However, while textbooks tick all of these boxes, ensuring the content is also up-to-date can prove problematic, with old textbooks perhaps not containing relevant content or curriculum aligned material. Therefore, if for example you’re teaching a lesson in Geography, you might want to engage learners with near real time phenomenon such as a recent hurricane they may have heard of in the news.

Another issue that’s worth flagging when using textbooks in the classroom is that often they need to be kept immaculate"Ensuring the content is also up-to-date can prove problematic." for the next class or student to use, which means that students are unable to write notes alongside important text or make annotations. This can be hugely disruptive to learning. Therefore, we need to think about how students’ notes can be collated in one place alongside key information in the text, so that they don’t end up in the bottom of students’ rucksacks or on the floor in the corridor, and instead are able to truly benefit student attainment. One such way, is to print relevant materials, such as news articles, open source scholarship, or even from the textbook itself (if it complies with fair use guidelines, of course) that can be annotated directly, however despite enabling students to keep notes and text alongside each other, the risk of these paper-based notes being lost or damaged is still significant.

With the possibility of textbooks in multiple classrooms needing replacing due to outdated content or due to damage, they can also often prove economically unviable which, with schools’ budgets being placed under significant strain, can place question over the overall benefits of the textbook.

So how can technology help to bring textbooks into the 21st Century?

Technological revolution

In the last few years, we've seen a huge increase in the amount of technology being introduced in classrooms, and it’s helping to create a more effective learning environment for all.

For many schools, the use of tablets, for example, has allowed for unprecedented freedom when it comes to learning opportunities, opening the door to audio and video content, as well as a wealth of research materials, including news reports, academic papers and online discussions. For the tech-savvy generation of students, having the ability to access learning content in this familiar way increases their engagement; and after all, with many jobs now requiring technological skills, it's important for them to be proficient with a number of different devices in a productive manner.

The best of both worlds

While both textbooks and tablet technology have their merits, there is a great deal to be gained by combining the two. We're all quite used to the idea of e-readers for reading books, but this is usually associated with fiction and leisure time. But why not consider implementing a similar technology in the classroom?"Having ebooks available streamlines the learning process." Having ebooks available on tablet devices is sure to streamline the learning process, and there are a number of benefits to be gained from this. One such benefit is that it gives students ownership of the curriculum content. As discussed previously, annotations and notes can often be lost or damaged when on paper, but with electronic text, students can highlight a single word, or a whole section, and type notes associated specifically to this. Using digital content gives both teachers and students the flexibility to get creative with notes and resources, as well as making them easier to manage.

Addressing the issue mentioned previously about students losing or damaging their paper notes, why not consider using technology that allows both curriculum resources and student notes to be stored in one place, so that all their ideas are contextually accessible and can be accessed and updated regularly?

We’re all aware of the need to provide thought-provoking and rich learning in classrooms, and with digital textbooks, this can be delivered. Having individual textbooks often makes it difficult to personalise and adapt learning, but when they’re digitised, additional content can be added and accessed immediately. Have you ever considered using a YouTube video to enhance a point, or perhaps a PowerPoint presentation to delve deeper into a subject? These offer an alternative and engaging way to enthuse students with learning, so why not add these supporting materials to provide students with more varied and contextual curriculum resources?

As for ensuring that all content is up-to-date, digital access also means that whenever a new edition of a textbook is published, teachers can download and distribute it immediately, rather than waiting for a new package of books to arrive at the school. In some instances, it might be that a subject-specific textbook simply doesn't exist. But teachers shouldn’t feel restrained by resources that aren’t available. You could even consider creating your own flexible resources that you can tailor specifically to lesson plans for the term and enhancing this with images, video, articles and even digital assessments.

The textbook will always have a place in classrooms - it is a source of in-depth, specialist information that is contained in a neat little package. But with the advent of technology, the traditional textbook can become so much more, opening up a varied and enriched teaching and learning experience.

What form of textbook do you prefer? Let us know below!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"