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A Computer For Every Student

“One-to-one programs” are popular in private schools, and the governor wants them in all the public schools, but the jury is still out on their effectiveness

(page 5 of 5)

Making Textbooks Interactive

Word processors are replacing paper and pen. Will high-tech textbooks be next?

Although etextbooks are increasingly common in college, their creation and adoption in primary and secondary schools has been limited. But at Punahou School, teachers are digitizing the textbooks they have written by using iBooks Author, a free app that allows users to create multitouch textbooks for the iPad. The software makes creating etextbooks simple, says Douglas Kiang, a Punahou computer science teacher working on his own etextbook.

“It’s never been as easy as it is now” to use video and sound to create multimedia textbooks, he says.

More etextbooks mean students are lugging around fewer heavy, traditional textbooks, plus the texts are more interactive and, hopefully, more engaging for students.

Unfortunately, there are few studies on the effectiveness of etextbooks in primary and secondary education. Textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt did a study that compared the use of an algebra etextbook and a regular algebra textbook in a California middle school last year.

The study found that students using the etextbook were more engaged, more motivated and performed better on tests at the end of the school year, compared with students using the traditional textbook. Critics were unconvinced, saying one study done by the company that made the etextbook proves nothing.

Creating etextbooks requires teachers to change how they view the text and how it supports students’ learning.

“We don’t want to just take advantage of the greater accessibility by just digitizing books and making them available as a PDF or something,” Kiang says. “We actually want to rethink what is the purpose of the textbooks, how do they enhance learning, and how can they be personalized and localized to the direction a class is taking with a particular group of students?”

This personalization is big part of etextbooks’ appeal. “I think that most teachers constantly try to improve their courses,” says Kiang, “and we have seen very few technologies that have caused this amount of excitement. The fact that you can interact that physically with the material makes it feel more intimate. That’s what students need.”

– Marcie Kagawa


Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

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Nov 2, 2012 04:55 am
 Posted by  miriam

There is a great website for apps,, which specialises in educational apps for young kids, parents, students and teachers. It is the one I always use when I want to find an educational app, and also the main store for my friends to buy good apps for their kids.

This has been flagged
Mar 11, 2013 07:09 pm
 Posted by  Mel

It's a great idea to supply every student in the State of Hawaii a Laptop Computer or a Tablet. Will the state also provide internet connections for these stuents when they take hope these
computers or tablets home.

Will these Computers and Tablets have the capabilities to playing games, downloading music, playing music, going on Face Book, other scocial networks, email, etc.?

Students without personal computers now will then be able to do all the above things. Will it help or hurt?


Mar 11, 2013 07:21 pm
 Posted by  Mel

If all public schools are issued a Laptop Computer/Tablet, what happens if the student lost, broke, or sold the item and refused to pay fore it. Who would be held accountable? The student, the parents of the students (both refusing to pay for the item), or the teacher.

With mentality of Governor Abercrombie who wants to hold the teachers accountable for student learning, it would be very easy for him to hold the teachers accountable for the computers/tablets.

Mar 11, 2013 07:29 pm
 Posted by  Mel

How can teachers who have little or no control over students be held responsible for their learning?

There are students who don't come to school at all, some with sporatic attendance and some who come to class but refuses to do work or turn work in. Calling parents can be frustrating -- they will tell you they have no control over their children and their children will not listen to them.

Explain now. How can teachers be held accountable for students like this?

Mar 11, 2013 07:46 pm
 Posted by  Mel

How to have a more effective public school system -- "Invest In Your Child's Education".

Collect $200 and up to a maximum of $10,000. Run the school like
private schools. Monies invested is returned to the parents w/interest if the student passes all classes with a "C" or better at the end of the academic year.

Parents will get back their original investment w/out interest if the child is withdrawn from school in good academic standards.

No refund if student is expelled for academic or ..

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