A Textbook Moratorium?

I’m assuming this is just a rhetorical device but Wesley Fryer over at Infinite Thinking Machine is calling for a textbook moratorium so we can get laptops and digital curriculum in everywhere.

I don’t disagree with his urge to shake things up and increase the rate of change in the market towards digital resources but the suggestion flys in the face of our experience with every other new technology that has come along.

YouTube hasn’t killed Cable,
which didn’t kill broadcast TV,
which didn’t kill radio,
which didn’t kill newspapers,
which didn’t kill books,
which didn’t kill handwriting
which didn’t kill gossip
and well you get the general idea.

Everything is additive, people always manage to find the best use of a medium in their current information diet. The balance will certainly change over time but I can confidently predict based on several hundred years of technological change that textbooks will NEVER go away.

Their role in instruction will change, and they will evolve to reflect those changes, but calling for a moratorium actually misses the point. The conversation we need to be having revolves around how to best use the current suite of tools so that each is making the optimum contribution to teaching and learning. It isn’t so much a fight between tech and print as it is between the 19th century and the 21st century. The tools are neutral in this.

Hat tip to elearnspace to posting about this earlier.

See also my earlier post Where is the Wii for Education?