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EBook Stampede

February 4th, 2011 by flanews

Ebooks are the wave of the future in Florida education The only question is when will the state make the switch from hardcover textbooks. The state Board of Education is trying to speed up the process. As Whitney Ray tells us, the board wants to get rid of textbooks and go all digital by 2015.

Rob Weissert is an avid reader. Hes known for reading five books at any given time. Before he bought an IPad that meant hauling around lots of paperbacks.

If I get Enterprise Floridas 2010 economic indicators report and I want to switch from that to a Malcolm Gladwell book or Jeffery Toobins The Nine, I can do that instantly, said Rob

One office over Katie Hayden uses a Kindle to store her novels.

I find it tougher to go pick up the paperback books I was reading in lieu of the Kindle, said Katie.

Both Rob and Katie work for Florida TaxWatch. The nonprofit research group advocates a switch from textbooks to ebooks as a way to improve education in Florida schools.

The fact is we all know technology is improving by the day, so the idea is these books can be updated more quickly and can be better tailored to individual elements, said Rob.

The switch may also save the state money in the long run. During last months Board of Education meeting members acted with a sense of urgency over the possibility of a transition to ebooks.

Tell us how fast it could be done technically and tell us what it would cost, said Board Member John Padget.

Schools get new textbooks every six years. Science books are scheduled to be ordered later this year. The board of education may delay the order if a move to ebooks is more cost effective.

A report on the cost effectiveness of switching to ebooks will be delivered at the Boards February 15th meeting. If the board finds the move feasible theyll ask lawmakers to pass legislation to begin the transition. There may also be 51 million Race to the Top dollars to help speed us the move.

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