Fact Sheet, Digital Textbook Playbook
FCC CHAIRMAN GENACHOWSKI JOINS SECRETARY OF EDUCATION DUNCAN TO
UNVEIL NEW “DIGITAL TEXTBOOK PLAYBOOK,” A ROADMAP FOR EDUCATORS TO
ACCELERATE THE TRANSITION TO DIGITAL TEXTBOOKS
ISSUES CHALLENGE TO STATES AND COMPANIES TO ENSURE EVERY K-12 STUDENT
HAS A DIGITAL TEXTBOOK WITHIN FIVE YEARSFCC Chairman Genachowski joined Secretary of Education Duncan to discuss the state of digital learning in
American schools. At the first-ever Digital Learning Day Town Hall in Washington, D.C., the Digital Textbook
Collaborative presented them with the “Digital Textbook Playbook,” a plan to help K-12 schools transition to digital
textbooks. The Collaborative also helped the FCC and the Department of Education update the School 2.0 bandwidth
planner to help schools plan for their connectivity needs.
Chairman Genachowski also challenged state leaders and the digital textbook industry ecosystem to make national
adoption of digital textbook a reality; he announced a meeting in March 2012 with CEOs of companies in the digital
learning space to drive national adoption of digital textbooks in the next five years.
Challenges to digital textbook adoption include state textbook procurement rules, device and content
interoperability, connectivity costs, and managing the transition.
While the United States spends more than $7 billion a year on textbooks, too many students are using books that
are 7-10 years old with outdated material.
Digital textbooks are used in pockets of the U.S., but adoption is not widespread.
The U.S. trails countries like South Korea in transitioning to digital textbooks; the country has announced that they
will begin transitioning all students to digital textbooks starting in 2013.
About a third of Americans – 100 million people – have not adopted broadband at home. Students need home
broadband to access digital content and to complete Internet based homework.
The “Digital Textbook Playbook” is a blueprint to help transition American schools to digital textbooks.
The Playbook is designed to help K-12 educators implement rich and effective digital learning environments in
their schools. The Playbook outlines criteria and steps that educators can take to initiate the transition to digital
The Playbook will help educators tackle the major barriers to the adoption of digital textbooks, including the
challenge of connectivity, both at school, in the community, and at home; the challenge of device procurement; and
the challenge of making the transition from paper to digital textbooks.
The Playbook is an output from the Digital Textbook Collaborative, an effort by education technology leaders
across private industry, school districts, and nonprofits, to accelerate the deployment of digital textbooks and
improving the quality and penetration of digital learning in K-12 education.
The Digital Textbook Collaborative was convened by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Education and builds
on the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and the Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan.
It includes members from the following organizations: Apple; Aruba Networks; AT&T; Blackboard; Dell;
Discovery Education; E-Rate Central/e-Bookroom Initiative; Freed-Hardeman University; Hewlett-Packard;
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Intel; McGraw Hill; Microsoft; Mobile Beacon; Mobile Citizen; One to One Institute;
Pearson; Qualcomm; Samsung; San Diego Unified School District; Scholastic; Software & Information Industry
Association; Sprint; Verizon; and Wireless Generation.
In consultation with the FCC, the Department of Education has released a new version of its School 2.0
bandwidth planner available at etoolkit.org.
The Bandwidth Planner is intended to help school principals and district CFOs plan their bandwidth needs,
demystify bandwidth for nontechnical educators, and bridge the knowledge gap between educators and
technologists to improve strategic technology planning.
The updated Bandwidth Planner is part of the “Digital Textbook Playbook” and the new release is a result of
collaboration from FCC engineers and members of the Digital Textbook Collaborative.
Leveraging technology can improve the opportunity for educational access, improve student engagement and
achievement, and improve learning productivity.
Technology-based instruction can reduce the time students take to reach a learning objective by 30 to 80 percent,
according to the U.S. Department of Education and recent studies by the National Training and Simulation
Teachers’ believe in the ability of technology to enhance learning; 93 percent believe that interactive whiteboards
enrich classroom education and 81 percent feel the same about tablets, according to a PBS study.
Continuous access to a computing device for every student leads to increased academic achievement and financial
benefits, especially when technology is properly implemented, according to Project RED.
Online collaboration contributes to improved graduation rates and other academic improvements, according to
A Federal Reserve study found that students with a PC and broadband at home have six to eight percentage point
higher graduation rates than similar student who don’t have home access to the Internet.
Many districts, schools and states have transitioned from traditional paper textbooks to digital learning
Florida is the first state to mandate adoption of digital learning tools in all public schools. Beginning in the 2015-
2016 school year, all instructional materials in grades K-12 in the public school system are required to be provided
in electronic or digital format. Florida is not requiring a specific brand or form of digital textbook, nor is it
requiring distribution of devices or other supplies. http://fcc.us/ykFj8a
California has launched a free digital textbooks initiative in 2009 that includes free texts for California students in
grades 9-12 in geometry, Algebra II, trigonometry, calculus, physics, chemistry, biology/life sciences, and earth
sciences, including the investigation and experimentation strand. http://fcc.us/xj3Z4I
The San Diego Unified school district in California embarked on a five-year journey to transform its classrooms
and completely revamp the way San Diego students learn. Since that time, the i21 Interactive classroom Initiative
(i21) has expanded into more than 3,500 classrooms and has distributed some 78,000 digital textbooks and other
mobile devices to teachers and students. http://fcc.us/zu3AZW
Utah announced this month that it will support the development of open source textbooks for all secondary
language arts, mathematics, and science courses and is recommending that all schools across the state adopt these
textbooks starting this fall. http://tinyurl.com/6s4le4v
Forsyth County, Georgia’s iAchieve Virtual Academy offers students the opportunity to engage in a digital
learning environment to achieve their individual potential through innovative, flexible, socially connected and
student-focused education. iAchieve is open for students in grades 6-12 who are residents of Forsyth
County entering the school system for the first time. http://fcc.us/xQrz4W
THE FCC’S TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION AGENDA
The FCC is the biggest funder of connectivity in K-12 schools in the United States and is helping connect
America’s schools to the networks of the future.
The FCC’s education agenda is focused on helping educators, students and parents transform learning
opportunities through the use of technology at school, in the community, and at home.
By modernizing the E-rate program, the FCC is working to ensure that America’s students receive the best
education and the high-tech skills to compete in the 21st century economy. The E-rate program was established
by Congress to bring connectivity to all schools and libraries in America:
Learning on the Go Mobile Pilots: The FCC is empowering schools and libraries to bring mobile learning solutions
to our nation’s students and communities through the funding of off-premises wireless connectivity. The pilot
program will help the FCC learn how best to support wireless connectivity services for mobile learning devices,
like digital textbooks, so that students and patrons can connect with online resources even when they’re not in
school or at a library. The FCC selected 20 Learning On-the-Go applicants to enable schools and libraries to
deliver Internet connectivity and digital learning over mobile wireless devices outside of the school or library.
Super-Fast Fiber: The FCC’s E-rate Order is helping to bring affordable, super-fast fiber connections to America’s
schools and libraries. It allows participants to use E-rate funds to connect to the Internet in the most cost-effective
way possible, including via unused fiber lines already in place across the country and through existing state,
regional and local networks. With these fiber networks, schools and libraries can provide students and
communities with cutting-edge connectivity, while at the same time saving millions of dollars by bypassing more
School Spots: The FCC also opened the door to “School Spots” – where schools have the option to provide
Internet access to the local community after students go home. With affordable fiber, these School Spots are a
major step toward the National Broadband Plan’s goal of connecting an anchor institution in every community to
affordable 1 Gbps broadband. School Spots will help ensure that people who otherwise lack access can enjoy the
benefits of super-fast broadband.
The FCC has worked to increase access to broadband at home for students and low-income families, so students
can stay connected from home with teachers, collaborate with classmates, and complete Internet based
private partnership to provide low cost broadband and device options to the millions of students eligible for free lunch
in the National School Lunch Program:
Connectivity: Participating cable companies that cover 86%+ of the U.S. population will offer all eligible families
who currently don’t subscribe to broadband two-years of $9.95 + tax broadband cable Internet, with a no
installation or activation fees.
Devices: An offer for a $150 low-cost refurbished family PC or laptop for School Lunch eligible families
Digital Literacy: Free in person and online digital literacy training nationwide in libraries, community centers, and
Education Content: Free education content for School Lunch families, that includes homework helper,
supplemental instructional content, and free eBooks in the areas of basic skills and college preparation.
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