Post #2 — Textbook …. or not to Textbook

One of my main goals this school season is to make my classroom more inquiry and technology based.  Well, actually, that has been my main goal for the past 4 years, but I’m moving with baby steps and have been experiencing some growing pains, but each and every year, I am meeting my goal by becoming a little bit more inquiry and technology based.

I am not assigning textbooks this year to any of my students.  That is what I am doing as part of my goal.  According to Thomas and Brown (2011), “We believe…that learning should be viewed as an environment – combined with the rich resources provided by the digital information network.” (p. 35).  I do not have access to computers all of the time, but I am including digital resources as much as possible.

I don’t think bypassing textbooks should be a way to save money.  That is not the issue.  What is at issue is being sure to use current information.  Textbooks are expensive and schools are reluctant to purchase one per student unless they are willing to use them for 5-10 years or even longer.

“And therein lies the major pitfall of the twenty-first century’s teaching model – namely, the belief that most of what we know will remain relatively unchanged for a long enough period of time to be worth the effort of transferring it.  Certainly there are some ideas, facts, and concepts for which this holds true.  But our contentions that the pool of unchanging resources is shrinking..”  (Thomas and Brown, 2011, p. 40).

In her blog, Audrey Watters ( ) muses about the banality of textbooks.  She discusses the different e-textbook options that are available to parents and students.  She wonders at the end of her post whether the only benefit is financial.

I think having a set of textbooks in a cupboard ready to use on occasion is the right way to go.  Because information is changing so fast, it is very important for teachers to see textbooks as only one resource to be used amoung many and that students should have access to reliable digital sources whenever possible.


Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.


2 responses to “Post #2 — Textbook …. or not to Textbook”

  1. Patti J says :

    What an interesting perspective. I hadn’t thought of the financial repercussions of textbooks vs. no textbooks. We are always struggling to find the dollars to increase and improve access to technology; where does the money come from to improve bandwidth, add one to one (or at least more) devices so we can use more digital content. Maybe diverting dollars from the textbook fund would make sense – but we would certainly have to do that in a way that ensured access to digital content was there on demand; and we would have to start in a classroom with staff who support the idea! I think this speaks to having a more global discussion about funding – we need less silos or pots of money and we need to start looking at the big picture!

  2. Andrea says :

    Hi Physixteacher,
    Thanks for giving me lots to think about. I agree that the issue of textbooks should be considered not from a financial perspective, but from an educational one. Teachers should use the resources that benefit their students’ education over a budget review.
    I have a couple of personal comments regarding the use of textbooks. I taught Science in Australia last year and one of the interesting things that I learned was that the students there did not use textbooks. At first I found this to be very problematic in my planning and chose one of the three choices of textbooks to follow as a guideline. The longer I was teaching there the more comfortable I became in finding and using different resources, ranging from lab experiments I was unfamiliar with to technology resources. Upon returning to Canada, I now agree that we rely too heavily on textbooks and attempted to teach a Science 30 class utilizing different resources from the textbook. I found this quite difficult, as the students did not like this new format. It was interesting to me how much students rely on their routine and when placed in a learning environment that deviated from the norm, were quite quick to display their discontent.
    The other comment I have is regarding perhaps the negative stigma that educators may have toward textbooks. I found this video regarding an innovative textbook that is used by mobile devices ( This new form of textbook is interactive, is mobile, is accurate, can keep up with the constant changes in content, and utilizes technology effectively. I think this textbook is revolutionary of its kind and think that through its development can change many of the concerns that teachers currently have regarding these resources.
    Thanks again for an interesting read!

    Matas, M. (2011). A next-generation digital book. [video file] Retrieved from

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