Curriculum

2012 Rewind: E-Textbooks, Tablets, Common Core, and More

By Katie Ash — December 31, 2012 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s been a busy year in the world of educational technology, from Apple’s jump into the digital textbook market in January to mounting concerns about children’s privacy when using mobile apps in December.

On the last day of the year, we’ve decided to take a look back on the biggest stories in educational technology in 2012.

Digital Textbooks: The year started off with big industry news when Apple launched its iBook app, which would allow users to create their own textbooks. Apple also announced a new partnership it had created with the three big K-12 textbook publishers: Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Just a few weeks later, the U.S. Department of Education and the FCC released a “Digital Textbook Playbook” to help educators transition from print to digital resources. The two federal agencies then met with textbook publishers and technology providers in Washington to discuss what role they can play in helping K-12 classrooms make that transition. The topic was touched on again at the annual ed-tech extravaganza known as ISTE, where panelists discussed how the industry was changing. And of course, there has been much movement in the consumer e-books market, which could be an indication of what is ahead for K-12 schools.

The Push for Accountability in Online Education: As virtual learning has expanded in classrooms across the United States, this form of education has also faced increasing scrutiny and calls from several organizations to put better accountability measures in place. Online learning giant K12 Inc. came under fire in February when a lawsuit was filed against it, alleging that the company traded at artificially high prices because its investors were not given accurate information about the schools’ academic performance. In March, Anne Bryant, then-executive director of the National School Boards Association, cast doubts on the performance of online schools in an article in the Huffington Post, calling for more research and accountability. Just a few months later, the NSBA’s Center for Public Education released a report that found mixed results for the performance of online schools compared with their brick-and-mortar counterparts. And in July, the National Education Policy Center released an analysis of the 59 full-time virtual schools run by K12 Inc. That report found that students in those schools performed worse academically and had higher dropout rates than students in brick-and-mortar schools. The organization called for a slowing of the growth of online schools until academic performance improves.

Open Education: Schools have continued to explore the world of open education, partially because strapped budgets have forced educators to look for cheaper alternatives to commercial products, even though open-source offerings may not provide the interactivity that commercial products do. But some schools, such as the Open High School of Utah, are making the concept work, and organizations, such as the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, which operates the OER Commons, are working to make open-source resources even more usable and relevant to K-12 classrooms.

And although the phenomenon has spread much faster in higher education than in K-12, the rise of MOOCs, or massively open online courses, is catching the attention of many K-12 educators and policymakers. The free classes, which garner thousands of students per class from all over the world, have gained momentum throughout the year, causing some backlash from various institutions—most notably, from Minnesota education officials, who banned the use of such courses for about a day before rescinding their position after a wave of protests from the public.

The Rise of Tablet Computing: A report released in March found that tablet ownership among college-bound high school seniors more than quadrupled in a year. 2012 also brought two new tablets from
Intel
and Amazon, both seeking to compete with the hugely successful Apple iPad. Solar-powered tablets are even being distributed in developing countries to help children, who have no access to a formal education, begin to learn. And of course, many pilot programs involving various types of tablets are taking place in schools across the United States.

Blended Ed. is the New Virtual Ed.: Or at least, that was the sentiment the Digital Education blog took away from this year’s Virtual School Symposium in October. Earlier in the year, the Innosight Institute published new definitions of blended learning, and the Center for Digital Education released a 56-page report detailing the best practices for blended learning environments. Education Week produced a special report this year about what works in blended learning. One form of blended learning—flipped classrooms—attraced a huge amount of media attention this year. The teaching approach, which combines video lectures viewed outside class with in-class instruction, was featured in a special panel discussion at ISTE. But the concept also attracted criticism from skeptics, who called it a “better version of a bad thing.”

Getting Tech-Ready for Common Core: As schools gear up to implement the Common Core State Standards, as well as the common core assessments scheduled to debut in the 2014-15 school year, technology is playing a key role in helping schools prepare for the transition. A technology readiness tool developed by the two coalitions developing the online assessments is helping give districts and schools feedback on what types of technology infrastructure they need to make the transition. In addition, both of the coalitions have released minimum technology standards and recommendations for the tests. One major challenge, of course, is finding the funding to cover the upgrades in infrastructure schools need to successfully implement the new assessments. See the latest issue of Digital Directions, which is all about technology and common core.

Did I miss anything? And what trends are likely to evolve in 2013?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum He Taught About White Privilege and Got Fired. Now He's Fighting to Get His Job Back
Matthew Hawn is an early casualty in this year's fight over how teachers can discuss with students America's struggle with racism.
13 min read
Social studies teacher Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for sharing Kyla Jenèe Lacey's, 'White Privilege', poem with his Contemporary Issues class. Hawn sits on his couch inside his home on August 17, 2021.
Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for lessons and materials he used to teach about racism and white privilege in his Contemporary Issues class at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tenn.<br/>
Caitlin Penna for Education Week
Curriculum What's the Best Way to Address Unfinished Learning? It's Not Remediation, Study Says
A new study suggests acceleration may be a promising strategy for addressing unfinished learning in math after a pandemic year.
5 min read
Female high school student running on the stairs leads to an opportunity to success
CreativaImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Curriculum School Halts Use of Fictional Book in Which Officer Kills a Black Child
Fifth graders in at least one Broward County school were assigned to read a book that critics say casts police officers as racist liars.
Rafael Olmeda, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
5 min read
Broward County School Board member Lori Alhadeff listens during a meeting of the Broward County School Board, Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Broward County School Board member Lori Alhadeff listens during a meeting of the Broward County School Board in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Alhadeff told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that she does not feel like the book "Ghost Boys" is appropriate for 5th graders.
Lynne Sladky/AP
Curriculum Opinion Introducing Primary Sources to Students
Five educators share strategies for introducing primary sources to students, including English-language learners.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty