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At Napa Valley USD in northern California, classroom technology integration has been a priority since 1997, when the district opened the country’s first New Technology High School. So bringing in digital books in order to provide easily accessible content to the 18,000 students and faculty in 34 schools was a natural—and important—step.

Through e-content provider OverDrive, Texas district sees major upswing in books read

Increasing the use of digital library content was one of the goals outlined in the North East Independent School District’s (ISD) instructional improvement plan starting in the 2013-14 school year. The San Antonio district, which enrolls 68,000 students, had many eBooks and digital audiobooks, but most students were simply not using the content.

“It is hard to provide everything students could want in one print collection,” says Faye Hagerty, director of library services. “But online collections allow us to provide far more options.”

The New Lenox School District 122 serves 5,400 pre-K through grade 8 students in 12 schools, and is located about 30 miles outside Chicago. The district has been noted for its high levels of achievement, with an average of 85 percent of students meeting or exceeding the Illinois Learning Standards in each of the last nine years. New Lenox administrators attribute this success to a rigorous curriculum that includes reading, writing and math, as well as instruction in art, music and technology skills.

As all educators know, reading is the key to lifelong learning, but it can be a challenge outside the classroom, with competition from TV, video games, and other distractions. That’s one reason United Way-Sun Coast has partnered with myON for the “Read on myON” project since 2012.

For the last decade, Carrollton-Farmers Branch (Texas) ISD Director of Technology Andy Berning has taken a pragmatic approach to 1:1 learning in his district of over 25,000 students by assessing the individual technology needs of the student population so as not to over-deliver and waste money. DA recently spoke with Andy to get his perspective on technology management in his district.

Mobile learning is on the rise, and consequently, so is the need for mobile connectivity. According to a 2010 survey of E-rate consumers, including public schools and libraries, conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 50 percent of respondents said they plan to implement or expand the use of digital textbooks and other wireless devices.

While tablet computers like the iPad get more attention, eBook readers—comparatively simpler devices designed specifically for reading electronic versions of books, magazines and newspapers—are currently selling in greater numbers and at a faster rate than tablets. E-book readers also hold much appeal for education, and for the same reasons they are increasing in popularity with consumers: ever-improving features and growing capabilities for displaying a variety of content, for a fraction of the price of most full-featured tablet PCs.

School librarians took notice when in 2009 Cushing Academy, a private secondary school in Massachusetts, transformed its library from a traditional facility to a digital media center. The library gave away most of its 20,000 books and bought 200 iRiver Story and Kindle e-readers. The school also sold to all of its 445 students a laptop to which the library could deliver databases and Web-based electronic books.

No textbooks are to be found in this honors biology class at Empire High School in Vail (Ariz.) School District.