Thursday, January 17, 2008

Free Money

No, I'm not giving money away. :)

From USAToday:
Could Free-Reading offer a glimpse of the future, when big, bulky — and expensive — textbooks go the way of the film strip?

Newman thinks so. "This is a shot across the bow for a lot of people," he says.

Schools spent $4.4 billion for textbooks in the 2006-07 school year, according to Eduventures. While that's only about 1% of total expenditures, the prospect of free, state-approved materials could profoundly influence how schools spend money — and what publishers offer, Newman says.

"If suddenly you don't have to spend $100 million every four years on textbooks, it's not found money, but certainly it's money that could be applied to other kinds of educational endeavors."

I like this idea of not spending money on textbooks, although I have to ask: who actually buys new ones every four years? I think our cycle is six or seven years.

So, here's the question: If you could go textbook free due to free online resources, what would you spend the textbook budget on?


Tom said...

Better yet, what do you think that they'd budget the money for?

Because honestly, I'd hire more teachers ... or improve facilities or something.

They'd probably buy a name-brand speaker for the teacher rally.

Doc Brown said...

I'd give at least some of the money to the teachers to buy supplies and resources for the classroom. We all have things we need but can't afford.

On the other hand, you can never go wrong with donuts!

Tom said...

Oh, I know! Copiers. Ones that work. ;)

Ben said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see textbooks phased out of classrooms. It seems silly to pay huge chunks of money for content that is readily available for free. In my personal experience with textbooks they tend to be oddly organized, difficult to read, and (in my opinion) often miss the most important parts of the topic.

This I year I decided to try going textbook free (I didn't get a monetary bonus though. Nuts!). I haven't missed them at all. The content online is richer, in more depth, and more accessible.

Ed Darrell said...

Video projection and sound, and computers -- and on videos and interactive games on the topic.

Penelope said...

Tom - copiers that work? don't you know we were cursed by the ghost of a teacher so that the copiers would *never* work?

Doc - mmm, donuts. Here's a math problem for you: how many donuts does one history textbook buy? (Mine costs $78 / book)

Ben - I started out using my textbook less than other teachers, and every year I cut down more. I've only given 1 book reading assignment this year (I was absent). I'd rather have them read out of a great online text (like or actually look at some primary sources. It seems to me, considering the amount of great primary material available online these days (did you see the thing about the LOC and flickr?) it's a shame not to use it.

Ed- computers is my choice. Get rid of all but one copier (there goes that curse!) and go 1:1 laptop and paper-free. I don't have enough knowledge of costs to calculate this, but it seems to me that you could pay for a decent 1:1 program from what used to be the paper, copier, copier repair, laptop car, classroom computer & textbook budgets.