Won't It Be Great When . . . Textbooks Become Obsolete?

Barry Lenson

I’m the father of a student who graduated college last year – and high school four years before that. So I know that textbooks cost hundreds of dollars each year and each semester. I also know that they become obsolete as soon as they are used, because publishers issue new editions every year, faster than those moles pop up their heads in boardwalk games.

Money, money . . . it evaporates when you’re buying college textbooks.  And then you end up with a pile of old books that you can’t even sell.

So I was pleased to discover that Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, recently stated that printed texts will not only soon be obsolete, but that they should become obsolete. As a benchmark, he pointed to South Korea, where digital texts have become pretty much standard, and where the government has instituted plans to make sure that all textbooks will be in digital format by year 2015.

“The world is changing," Duncan said. “This has to be where we go as a country.”

Here at StraighterLine, we couldn’t agree more. We like the environmental soundness of keeping things digital, not investing in paper and ink and costly book distribution. (You might have noticed that we like virtual learning environments too, not classrooms full of desks and lights and other physical stuff.) We’ve already set up special pages on our site to help our students rent, borrow, or buy any college textbooks that they need for their online courses.  And in time, we aim to take our “push to digital” even further.

The move to digital learning in all forms is already well underway. And we are proud to be part of it.

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