The Washington Post

Fairfax schools to buy paper textbooks after pixel predicament

Fairfax County schools will soon purchase tens of thousands of hard copy mathematics textbooks after an experiment with Web-based instruction came under scrutiny from parents and teachers.

Fairfax schools will pay about $2 million for the paper and ink textbooks to replace what parents called the woefully inadequate pixel and gigabyte version.

Earlier this year, Fairfax County opted to proceed with Web-based math text books for all grades in all schools following relatively successful trials of similar products for social studies classes.

The online math textbooks quickly hit several snags. Teachers said that many students did not have access to computers at home.

Many students found the Web-based instruction to be confusing and difficult to use. During Superstorm Sandy, many students were unable to complete homework assignments due to widespread power outages.

Parents complained that the online texts required an expensive fast Internet connection. In addition, the Web-based products had software compatibility issues with popular Apple products like the iPhone and iPad.

As a result, some Fairfax parents spent about $100 to purchase hard copies of the math textbooks for their children.

At a school board meeting on Monday, the administration offered to help fix the problems by allowing school principals to purchase new hard copy textbooks.

During the meeting, school board members urged that more care should be taken in future considerations for online instruction.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.


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