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An e-Textbook in Every Student’s Hand by 2017

Later today, with SETDA Executive Director Doug Levin in attendance, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will join Education Secretary Arne Duncan to unveil the Obama Administration’s “Digital Textbook Playbook” to accelerate the K-12 transition to digital textbooks. USA Today has the scoop:

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will recommend today at a summit of industry and education officials that states modify the textbook adoption process, allowing K-12 schools to use taxpayer funding once reserved for printed books on iPads, Kindles and the like — as well as software.

They’ll begin pushing publishers, computer tablet makers and Internet service providers to work together and lower costs if they want to sell their products to the nation’s 50 million schoolkids.

Administration officials say Web-connected instructional materials help students learn more efficiently and give teachers real-time information on how well kids understand material. “We spend $7 billion a year on textbooks, and for many students around the country, they’re out of date,” Genachowski says. In five years, he predicts, “we could be spending less as a society on textbooks and getting more for it.”

Among the challenges the Obama Administration has identified and are seeking to address through this initiative: state textbook procurement rules, device and content interoperability, connectivity costs and managing the transition.

SETDA welcomes the federal-state partnership to drive innovation and cost-savings in the antiquated K-12 texbook market. This initiative can help us meet our goal of being able to provide high-quality, rich, up-to-date, standards-aligned and fully-accessible instructional resources to every student in the country – without overloading students backpacks and at a substantially lower cost.

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