Are Digital Textbooks Revolutionizing Reading for Students?

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For teachers, one long-running challenge is finding reading materials that are appropriate for the entire class and covering them at a pace that everyone finds manageable and engaging.  With children in the same grade often reading at remarkably different levels, this could feel like an impossible task.  Now, though, teachers have a new, curriculum-meeting tool to draw on: Crack the Books, which are iPad textbook apps with customizable reading levels and a host of features to take the experience beyond simply reading. Textbooks may never hold the same appeal to teachers or students once they have experienced all that these digital textbooks have to offer.

Digital Textbooks Take Learning to the Next Level

The Crack the Books materials offer students more information than a traditional textbook, since they include pictures, videos, interactive features, and more.  These features keep students fascinated while providing them with however much information they are willing to take in.  Most importantly, though, the reading level in each book can be set anywhere between first and eighth grade.  The books also include tests, links to outside resources, and a glossary.  Students can additionally take advantage of features that are a nod to traditional reading and studying, including highlighting, taking notes, and even using voice transcription features.

Exploring the Available Options

So far, Crack the Books has launched three textbooks, which are available for purchase in the iTunes store.  The books explore different biomes to show students plant and animal life, geological features, and other aspects of the ecological system.  Pines to Vines provides an introduction to forests around the world, Blades takes students on a journey through grasslands, and Seashores to Sea Floors traverses all levels of the ocean.  In the future, Crack the Books intends to offer at least 20 more immersive and interactive books.

Make Reading Appealing Again for Every Student

Every student does not take the same thing away from a lesson.  Students have different interests, modes of learning, and ways of interpreting language.  Some students need help outside of the text, some students need extra stimulation, and some students need more of a challenge from the material.  The beauty of digital textbooks is that they can meet the needs of all of these students in a way that one book or lesson plan never could.  The ability to understand and even enjoy the material is no longer limited to students who are at the ideal reading level for the given text.

Resources for In and Out of the Classroom

These textbook apps can be used in a variety of settings, too.  Aside from teachers with iPad-equipped classes, professionals such as speech pathologists, English language learner teachers, and teachers who run resource rooms can take advantage of these tools.  Even for parents, these digital books can be a great way to give children extra reading practice, encourage learning outside of school, and teach them to enjoy learning more.  In the future, digital textbooks may be used in countless ways to enrich the learning experience of every child while allowing professionals to perform their jobs at an even higher level.

The End of the Traditional Textbook?

When it comes to the traditional school textbooks by publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, they seem to be living a life where the end is nearing. However, even studies show that it is hard to gauge whether the digital textbook will fully take over the market of educational resources. This is because the sheer demand and love for a physical book is still very high. Only time will tell if there will be a day that students no longer have to lug around physical books and will simply learn everything through a digital medium.

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