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FCC/U.S. Dept. of Ed. Highlight Drive for K-12 E-Textbooks

In his latest "DC News" post, my EDUCAUSE Policy colleague, Greg Haledjian, provided information about a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. Department of Education (ED) forum in which K-12, educational publishing, educational technology, and telecommunications leaders were convened to brainstorm strategies to "move all K-12 schools to interactive digital textbooks in the next five years." The event included a review of findings from a research report indicating that such a transition could save schools $250 per student annually. It also gave the agencies an opportunity to further promote their LEAD Commission process, which seeks to develop a blueprint for improving K-12 education through the use of digital technologies such as interactive e-textbooks.

The event serves as a further indication of the momentum building across the education sectors behind e-textbooks and the use of technology to advance learning in general. It also highlights the linkages between the FCC's National Broadband Plan and ED's National Education Technology Plan, further emphasizing the synergy between the nation's network connectivity and educational achievement agendas as previously discussed by the agencies (see also the Digital Textbook Playbook page). However, the event does not appear to have included representatives from the open educational resources (OER) community, which seems like a significant oversight given the increasing role of OER in the development of e-learning across the K-12 and postsecondary sectors. (For example, see the State of Utah's decision to adopt open textbooks for secondary math, science, and language arts courses statewide, as well as the Washington State Colleges Open Course Library initiative and Washington State's passage of legislation to promote the development and adoption of OER for elementary and secondary education.)

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