SETDA Says

Post from May 31st, 2011

VA Beyond Textbooks: Year One Report

Note: Doug Levin, SETDA executive director, is guest-posting this blog.

In November 2009, the Virginia Department of Education launched a project to explore the implications of introducing traditional textbook alternatives into classrooms. In the 18 months since the launch, Beyond Textbooks has scrutinized cost-effective models that blend the vetted standards-based content and convenience of traditional textbooks with the engaging, dynamic, up-to-date content and resources afforded by the Web.


The goals of the pilot project have been to understand:

  • How digital instructional materials can be used most effectively to increase student engagement and educational outcomes and to improve teacher practice;
  • The conditions necessary for delivering high-quality instructional materials for a lower investment; and
  • The technical, social, and policy implications of replacing traditional textbooks with digital alternatives.

While the authors of the Virginia study correctly point out that the effort is only a pilot, increased student independence and increased engagement were noted by students and teachers. And, researchers observed that the students’ comfort levels with the e-books allowed teachers more freedom to become facilitators of learning.

The year one report [PDF] is well worth a close read and is a solid contribution to our emerging understanding of the ongoing shift from print to digital and open.

One Response to “VA Beyond Textbooks: Year One Report”

  1. John Sonnenberg's avatar

    Interesting to see the difference between elementary and high school students. At high school they are already programed to use textbooks and thus more comfortable.

    John Sonnenberg