Beyond Textbooks is a series of small-scale pilot programs designed to explore the technical, social and policy implications of textbook alternatives. This project identifies 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.
VDOE analyzed SOL assessment data to identify elementary, middle and high school history content with corresponding achievement levels that suggest a need for additional instructional resources and tools. School divisions were selected for participation in Beyond Textbooks based on the infrastructure and support required for the initiative and existing relationships with the participating textbook publishers.
Supported by the Governor’s Productivity Investment Fund and products and services donated by various textbook publishers and software developers from the private sector, Phase I of Beyond Textbooks included an evaluation component to measure the impact of the initiative on classroom instruction. Researchers from Radford University interviewed teachers, administrators and students in the participating schools about how the use of digital textbooks affected teaching and learning.
- Year One Beyond Textbooks Report (PDF) – outlines the results of the pilot project and shows how multipurpose portable devices can be integrated effectively into schools.
- Beyond Textbooks: The Learning Return on Investment (PDF) – addresses the costs involved with the pilot and conditions necessary for delivering high-quality instructional materials at a lower cost.
Phase I of the Beyond Textbooks study clearly demonstrated that multipurpose portable devices can be powerful tools for learning when loaded with engaging high-quality content and applications.
News: September 28, 2010 – Students in Four School Divisions Trade Textbooks for iPads.
Phase II focused on the design and development of model e-Learning Backpacks that included digital textbooks delivered on wireless, handheld, multipurpose computers with supporting resources, tools, and applications. This phase emphasized STEM areas (mathematics and its real-world applications specifically).
The evaluation component of each of the pilots is summarized in the following reports:
- Digital Textbooks in an Online Course (PDF) – provides the results of a project with online AP Biology students using an iPad version of a McGraw-Hill textbook created by Inkling.
- Support for Differentiation: Implementing eSpark (PDF) – provides results of this short-term pilot using apps to differentiate learning and indicates that the eSpark process (matching student needs to specific apps) has validity but more support is needed to enable teachers to effectively use these types of products.
- The HMH Fuse: Algebra/App Pilot Report (PDF) – provides insights into the design of digital texts developed from a short-term pilot of a Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt Algebra I textbook app.
- Putting on the eLearning Backpack with TI-Nspire Technology (PDF) – provides the initial results of a short-term pilot using TI-Nspire graphing calculators in teaching algebra.
News: October 12, 2011 – VDOE Launches eLearning Backpack Initiative at Powhatan High
Phase II of the electronic textbooks project, the e-Learning Backpack Initiative, explored the conditions necessary to move from text-based learning materials to interactive, engaging digital resources that provide ample opportunities for formative assessment.