This morning our full day of discussions and presentations for Discovery Education’s forum, “Beyond the Textbook,” start in Washington D.C. In the few minutes I have before we depart for the day’s activities, I want to share a few posts I’ve read in the last couple days by following the #beyondthetextbook hashtag on Twitter.

Let’s begin with Bud Hunt‘s outstanding post yesterday, “Not #beyondthetextbook. #betterthetextbook.” Please read the entire post. This would be a great framework to begin discussions in any school about curriculum, lesson plan sharing, textbooks, and learning. A few favorite quotations from the post…

A definition of “textbook” from Bud:

“A collection of information organized around thoughtful principles intended to provide support to instruction.”

On platforms:

Try to separate the delivery technology – the way the information gets to the people – from the information you’re trying to send. If you argue that “the Internet is the textbook,” then you have failed to separate delivery from information. You can’t completely separate the two – the way something comes to you affects what you get, of course – but try to at least be aware of the two elements. And take advantage of the right delivery tools to allow for the types of stuff you want to see your textbooks do.

On expertise:

The reason for textbooks is to bring a collection of human expertise on something together. But do not let that expertise lie in a publisher’s office alone.

On commercial companies’ opportunity to provide a worthwhile “value add” to free curriculum options:

If textbook companies want to sell us things for and in the rest of the 21st Century, they should be selling the building blocks of content. Small pieces. They should be selling expertise and guidance in how to create these local curriculum creation teams. They might sell the platforms that help us to put the pieces together and distribute them to our communities.

Read the entire post. Bud isn’t here in person, unfortunately, but his ideas are. His post yesterday, “#beyondthetextbook – Considering Inputs,” offers more valuable insights on the specifics of content management / learning management / platforms for both delivery and learner interaction. Thank you Bud.

The second post I’d highly commend to you in this discussion is David Jakes‘ post from a couple months ago, “Words Matter.” Again, a few quotations which stand out for me…

On the “what if” possibilities open to use today as educators, leaders, and learners:

What if they [textbooks] were called something other than digital textbooks, something that went beyond the comfort zone of education, something that suggested new capabilities, purpose and use? The name should be anything but “text book.” And words matter, right? Changing the name also means changing the design, away from the traditional linear, sequential trip through content. The user interface design on the examples I’ve seen are cumbersome at best. But instead of user interface design, what if the producers of these resources focused on learner interface design?

Specifically on the possibility of “intelligent: textbooks:

What if learners could ask the textbook to connect ideas, people, resources, websites, social media, really anything digital, in a way that does with their “If this happens, then do this?”statements? If I do this, then the textbook does that. For example, if I selected an online resource from a list provided to me by the textbook based on a question I posed to the textbook, then I could “program” the textbook to automatically post the resource to my Diigo account, and then share it with my network of learners, perhaps via Twitter, along with the tags I select. I want an intelligent agent as my “textbook,” not just a digital version of a static collection of ink on paper.

On district-funded 1 to 1 learning initiatives versus BYOD cop outs:

If you expect digital textbooks to be a key factor in the learning experience, then you have to be in a 1:1 situation. Everyone has to have the same device, with the same capability; to be fair to teachers, the teachers have to know what every kid walks into class with, and the school community has to build understanding together about the progress and impacts of the implementation. If you don’t have a 1:1, you’ll have kids with devices without digital textbook capability (e.g. flip phone), which means that you ‘ll have some kids with digital textbooks and some without – completely unacceptable if you are concerned about about the role the digital textbook plays in learning.

There’s much more, please read David’s entire post.

Last of all, I commend Mark Moran‘s post, “How to Leverage the Wisdom of a Crowd of Educators.” Mark shares some thought provoking ideas from Pete Townsend, who warns conversations about digital textbooks can easily turn into ‘a case of “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.”.

On the importance of curriculum materials transformatively including more voices and perspectives than ever before with print textbooks:

Even when created by educators, digital textbooks likely will reflect the perspective of a small number of authors, rather than the collective wisdom of thousands of experienced educators, and they are likely to draw on a more limited pool of open education resources than they might otherwise.

On lesson resource aggregation tools which need, which Mark reminds us his company is striving to provide via

What is needed is a single, central repository that aggregates the work of great educators and makes it easily searchable. Teachers should be able to access assignments created by other teachers, learn from them, build on them, and then contribute their own, improved versions to the repository. For example, once a few dozen U.S. History teachers create innovative, resource-rich assignments relating to the U.S Civil War, a new teacher entering the fray can synthesize the best of the existing lesson plans to create his or her own.

Again, read the entire post from Mark.

I know I should include many more perspectives and voices here, and I shall… but that’s the best I can do this morning in the time available! Now, we’re off to ponder (and hopefully discuss) the future of digital curriculum which MAY be called, “the textbook!”

'Open source textbooks a

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