Elementary schools to pilot using digital textbooks

Fifth and sixth grade students will use digital textbooks in English, math and an elective of the school's choice.

Children using tablet computer 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Children using tablet computer 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Some 100 elementary schools across Israel will be using digital schoolbooks this year as part of a new pilot project, the Education Ministry announced this week.
The project, led by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, is part of a national program aimed at “adapting the education system to the 21st century,” which has been in place for two years.
The schools were selected for the project according to their available technological and pedagogical infrastructure and were provided with Internet, a laptop for each teacher and projectors.
Pupils in the fifth and sixth grades in the participating establishments will use digital textbooks in three subjects: English, math and an elective of the school’s choice. The textbooks are presented in a PDF format which the teachers can update and insert material into.
In class, some schools will have students use the book on their personal computers, while others will make use of the classroom projector.
Educators also committed to 30 hours of digital textbook training and another 30 hours at a course dealing with the use of the technology in the specific subjects they teach.
“It really brings a fun atmosphere into the classroom,” Ilana Vagman, principal of Alon elementary school in Haifa, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Vagman’s school, which is participating in the pilot this year, had already been using the method prior to it.
“[The students] are excited to work with the computers, it opens a whole interactive world, which for them, this is their world. They were born into this,” she added, “this method appeals to them much more because of that.”
Vagman, who also teaches math, explained that besides allowing kids not to have to carry heavy books, or forget them at home, the project also facilitates their learning.
“The lesson becomes more attractive to them, they are more focused,” she explained. “Not only are they learning the digital skills, they are also learning the content at the same time. They think they are playing but they are actually learning.
“I very much believe in this project,” she added.
Sa’ar stated that the transition to learning through digital books is “a necessity, and the education system must adapt itself to the changing reality and advance learning.”
He explained that the pilot’s success will then be empirically measured with the aim of expanding it to all schools in the country.