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Why online textbooks proved to be the right move

Improving teaching and learning through the smart use of technology

My role means I’m almost inherently interested in the innovative ways in which we can improve the teaching and learning experience through the smart use of technology.  And that’s not only for our students, but also for the teachers too.

However, when I witnessed not only how much the students were required to carry into school, but also around during the day, this desire to greater integrate technology become all the more important.  Add to this, the quantity of books lost or damaged each year and I started to wonder what difference online textbooks might make to us here at St Edmund’s College.

However, in spite of my support for technology, I’m not a proponent of simply introducing it for the sake of it and any online textbook solution that we chose would need to offer more than simply replacing a handful of paper resources.

From the need to cost-effectively work across publishers, through to the requirement to seamlessly integrate with our Firefly VLE, not to mention remaining mindful of the financial implications of such an investment, I made sure that I carried out thorough research into the market.

Karl Fry, Director of ICT, Computing & E-learning, St Edmunds

Classoos proved to tick all the boxes to meet our needs.  We carried out a pilot of the system during the academic year 2017-2018, then introduced it across Years 9, 10 and 11 in September 2018 and I’m delighted that we made this decision.

Above all, the platform’s ability to work across publishers meant we could create a critical mass of books on the system which impacted positively on making it a cost-effective solution.

Importantly, though, Classoos has been well-received by both students and teaching staff.  The students really enjoy being able to have access to so many resources, across either their laptops or tablets, and also while at home.  They also enthusiastically make their own revision notes from screenshots of the pages they’ve been studying, without having to write in the physical resource.  Staff, meanwhile, can see both the cost and time benefits that this has made.

I’d advise any other school contemplating a shift to online textbooks to ensure that they get as many subjects on board as quickly as they can and embrace the copyright free content that is also available.  This way, you provide students and teachers alike with sufficient quantities of content to quickly get into the habit of teaching and learning in this way. Embracing the support of the Classoos team who came into the College to support our staff also proved invaluable.

The author is Director of IT / Computing & E-learning, St Edmund’s College, Hertfordshire

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