March 14, 2019
Textbooks Becoming Obsolete
In the February 12, 2019 Annual Letter written by Bill and Melinda Gates, they describe 9 surprises that have stood out to them and motivated them in their philanthropic journey. Surprise #8 is "Textbooks are Becoming Obsolete." How our schools are changing or not changing to embrace technology for better learning is a major topic of discussion and often a source of strong disagreement in schools. How much technology do we want in our schools, are we afraid
may become obsolete... these questions can feel threatening to our closely held values and traditions in schools. It is interesting to read the perspectives of one of the most famous innovators and philanthropists in the world.
Here is an excerpt on this topic from Bill Gates included in their 2019 annual letter:
"I read more than my share of textbooks. But it’s a pretty limited way to learn something. Even the best text can’t figure out which concepts you understand and which ones you need more help with. It certainly can’t tell your teacher how well you grasped last night’s assigned reading.
But now, thanks to software, the standalone textbook is becoming a thing of the past. Suppose you’re taking high school algebra. Instead of just reading a chapter on solving equations, you can look at the text online, watch a super-engaging video that shows you how it’s done, and play a game that reinforces the concepts. Then you solve a few problems online, and the software creates new quiz questions to zero in on the ideas you’re not quite getting.
All of this is a complement to what teachers do, not a replacement. Your teacher gets a rich report showing what you read and watched, which problems you got right and wrong, and the areas where you need more help. When you come to class the next day, she is equipped with a ton of specific information and suggestions to help her make the most of her time with you..."
To read the full reply of both Bill and Melinda Gates' comments on this subject,
Thank you ISCA Member, Grant Duer, for sharing this story!