ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The days of students using traditional textbooks in New Mexico's largest public school district appear to be numbered.
The Albuquerque Public Schools board recently approved an $11.3 million contract with a company that provides web-based resources instead of paper educational materials, the Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/PVuwsb ).
District officials say contracting with Discovery Education is cheaper than buying new textbooks and will better prepare students.
"This is going to be a transition year," said Shelly Green, the district's chief academic officer. "We're not going and pulling books out of the schools, but we do want teachers to start taking advantage of this. The electronic world is really where the kids are starting to live."
District officials call the new materials "techbooks." They include videos, interactive lessons, educational games, online reading passages and glossaries.
Making the transition from traditional books to techbooks has some teachers concerned, including Gary Bodman, who teaches science at Madison Middle School. He said he's worried about those students who don't have computers or Internet access at home.
At Zuni Elementary, which piloted the program last year, a computer lab for students and parents is open after school and is accessible to students during the day.
District officials said the same kinds of accommodations will be made across the district.
U.S. Census figures show about 64 percent of New Mexico residents live in a home with Internet access. That number may be higher in Albuquerque.
The contract with Discovery Education also includes training for teachers, which district officials say will be forthcoming this semester.
This marks the second year using the materials for Zuni teacher Dan Gutierrez. He said simulated science labs are a real benefit, especially for schools like his where there's no space for labs.
Gutierrez said the goal is to help students learn to seek out knowledge on a web-based platform.
"It's the importance of the platform and what it represents," he said. "Discovery Ed represents how learners are going to interact with information."
Information from: Albuquerque Journal
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