A spokeswoman for Albuquerque Public Schools said a board decision last school year to begin a transition to techbooks from traditional text books could eventually lead to Wi-Fi on the district's school buses, but the first priority is getting the program running at all school sites.
The district signed a seven-year, $11.3 million grant recently with Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications that develops standards-based digital media for schools, to begin the transition from textbooks. APS Communications Specialist Johanna King said the new techbooks, which were piloted last year at an elementary school, run about $45 each compared to $100 for paper school books. She added that the comparison is "apples to oranges," however, because with techbooks there is no need for annual replacements, teacher's editions or other "consumables."
"On the other hand, the Discovery package includes 300-plus hours of professional development,something we didn’t get with the textbooks, and subscription packages," King added.
But the Discovery contract also does not earmark funds for digital access on school buses for students who have long commutes to and from home ... yet, anyway. While the spokeswoman said APS plans to roll out the techbooks at all campuses this year, it wasn't a priority to equip buses with Wi-Fi.
"Our first priority is to get Discovery running in every school and teachers trained," said King. "The mobile access might be something we consider down the road."
Meanwhile, as reported in this month's edition of School Transportation News magazine, reading has gone mobile in West Virginia as three counties are piloting iPod Touches used by students who must endure long rides on school buses.