Teachers, we are on the verge of a revolution—not the type you hear about on the world news, but in your classroom. Many of the stock items we expect to see in a classroom, such as storybooks, textbooks, and reference books, are gradually becoming a thing of the past. The advent of computers has essentially made reference books obsolete in many schools, for no school budget can compete with a computer when it comes to keeping up to date with research and current events. Hard-bound encyclopedias are gone, but online access to some are currently available through a subscription service sponsored by the school or public library.
Over the last ten years, electronic versions of textbooks have become increasingly available in colleges due to the reduced cost of purchasing the digital version. Textbook companies make a lot of money by consistently updating books every other year on average, and as a teacher, you want your students to have the most current information possible. Hard copies are very expensive, and when you consider that thousands of textbooks are annually budgeted for each year, there goes a huge portion of the school’s operating costs. The more expensive hard copy textbooks become, the more inviting digital versions are. This is already trickling down into elementary and secondary schools.
Libraries, as we have known them, are changing due to the digital world. Money, that would have previously purchased hard copies of novels and other literature, is now being used to buy access to digital reading programs. Many books are only available for use on a reading device, such as a Kindle or a Nook Book. Libraries will always be the last bastion for hard copy books, but as those books fall apart and have to be discarded, they will most likely not be replaced.
A growing trend we have seen in the elementary classroom has been the elimination of teaching cursive writing, the reasoning being that people are writing less and using the keyboard more. Children are now being taught keyboarding at younger ages, and many schools feel that the sooner they are taught this basic skill, the better able they will be to meet the technological challenges ahead of them.
The increasing use of technology in the classroom is going to demand a teaching force ready to do this. Cell phones, iPads, and e-readers are going to become the most important school supplies students can have. These devices are already being incorporated into teaching in the elementary levels, but they are only following what the secondary and college levels have done previously.
As teachers, you are going to be required to know how to use mobile devices as educational tools. There will undoubtedly be many workshops held in every school district designed to train you both on the device as well as on the programs you will be using. You are part of the changing face of education, and while a bit scary, it is exciting. You can do this!