The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — The number of iPads being used in Washington County Public Schools could significantly increase in the next school year, according to Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox.

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A request for the Washington County Board of Education to approve the purchase of new French and German textbooks during a meeting this month led to a discussion about the future of textbooks.

School board member Donna Brightman asked Wilcox during the board meeting if he thought the move toward fewer textbooks and more online instruction was gaining traction.

“I still struggle with spending money on textbooks,” Brightman said.

Wilcox, who used to work for Scholastic Inc., said textbook publishers are being pushed hard, but many are still bundling print and online resources so school systems cannot choose just one.

“Generally, what I see is textbooks going the way of the dinosaur. Many school systems don’t buy them anymore,” Wilcox said.

School system officials here are looking at the possibility of using more iPads to deliver instruction, Wilcox said. He said the number of iPads being used in the school system could double in the next school year.

Arnold Hammann, the school system’s director of information management and instructional technology, said last week that the system ended the school year with a little more than 1,000 iPads and iPod Touches.

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The school system could have another 1,000 of those devices by the end of the 2012-13 school year because many teachers have been seeking grants to buy them, Hammann said.

Some teachers prefer the iPod Touches over the iPads. Which device is used depends on what the classes are working on, he said.

Wilcox said he expects school system officials will take a careful look at moving toward total electronic adoption.

Asked last week when that might be, Wilcox said it could occur the next time the issue of buying textbooks comes up.

Going electronic will be tied to finding the right textbook vendor who will unbundle the products, he said during the June 5 meeting.

It will probably happen with math or science first as at least one publisher is offering algebra and biology fully online, Wilcox said.

The school board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of new French and German textbooks, which would cost $156,000. The textbooks will be used in the next school year, according to a school system document.

Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md.,

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