RALEIGH, NC - 16 Dec 2004: A group of schools in 14 districts nationwide are turning to digital textbooks and libraries to replace hard copy books this school year. As part of a program with IBM and Vital Source Technologies, the schools are creating custom curricula and portable libraries for their students and teachers.
Vital Source is developing a Custom Curriculum Solution for each of the districts. Each curriculum is designed to meet the specific needs and educational objectives of those schools. For some schools, Vital Source is replacing textbooks. For others, Vital Source is being used to link primary documents, lesson plans and student assessments. At all of the schools, IBM preloads the VitalSource Technologies VitalSource Key with Personal Portable Library, a non-customized solution, on education models of its ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre desktops. The Personal Portable Library features more than 3,000 works including history books, art, maps and classic literature. The Vital Source Key is the interface for the texts.
One school that has adopted the Personal Portable Library powered by the Vital Source Key is the Carrollton School of Sacred Heart in Miami. All students at Carrollton have an IBM ThinkPad notebook, and the digital library enables educators to capitalize on their existing investment in technology. Now students in the school can use their notebooks to search, read and take notes on documents ranging from Plato's "Republic" to George W. Bush's inaugural speech.
"We want students to be able to carry around on their notebooks a library of rich resources customized to our curriculum," said Sister Suzanne Cooke, Headmistress at Carrollton. "Vital Source Key with the Custom Curriculum Solution allows us to do exactly that."
Schools, such as Carrollton, are turning to digital textbooks and libraries for a variety of reasons. Digital content gives students the most current information and can be continually updated. That's an advantage over hard copy books that are often out of date before they are issued. Digital delivery also enables schools to more effectively integrate state learning standards, lesson plans and electronic textbooks into the classroom.
Digital content can help to eliminate textbook shortages. Many school districts face book shortages because orders are typically limited to a percentage of the previous year's enrollment. In fast-growing school districts, this can leave some students without books.
Another advantage of digital content is reducing the need for students to carry heavy backpacks. The American Occupational Therapy Association has reported that the average student carries a backpack weighing almost one-fourth their body weight, and many students are suffering chronic back pain as a result. Students at schools using ThinkPad notebooks only need to carry a lightweight notebook to school, not an over-stuffed backpack.
"We are pleased to customize our product to meet the needs of a diverse group of innovative schools across the country," said Frank Daniels III, CEO and president of Vital Source. "Whether schools want to replace textbooks with electronic curriculum, integrate state learning standards correlations, provide supplemental reading material for students at a low cost, or simply capitalize on their technology investment by providing digital content, Vital Source can meet that need."
Schools participating in the consortium are: Rutherford County Schools, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; St. George's School and Lausanne School, both in Memphis, Tenn.; Charles County Schools, La Plata, Md.; Lakeview Academy, Gainesville, Ga.; Carrollton School of the Scared Heart, Miami, Fla.; Clovis County Schools, Clovis, Calif.; Eastside Union, San Jose, Calif.; Forney ISD, Forney, Texas; Dallas ISD, Dallas, Texas; Wake County Schools, Wake County, N.C. (at selected schools); Lexington Independent, Lexington, S.C.; St. Paul's Episcopal Schools, Mobile, Ala.; Muscogee County Schools, Muscogee, Ga.; and Lakeside School, Seattle, Wash.