US teachers urged to drop ‘traditional textbooks’ in favour of shared resources online

The United States government is urging teachers to “move away from traditional textbooks” and switch to freely accessible shared resources online.

Arne Duncan, the US education secretary, said at a conference that the use of online resources was “transforming learning” because material could be “constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs”.

The US Department of Education has launched a national campaign, called #GoOpen, to encourage schools to replace “old, expensive textbooks” with “new, up-to-date, openly licensed educational resources”. Mr Duncan said the increased use of such resources would “ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources”.

The launch comes as ministers in the UK are urging schools to return to the use of traditional printed textbooks. Schools minister Nick Gibb said in a speech in June that good textbooks “provide a structured, well-honed progression through a subject’s content”.

He said: “They also ease workload for teachers, who no longer need to spend whole evenings and weekends preparing ad-hoc resources.”

Mr Gibb is urging textbook publishers in the UK to “do better” in a move that he hopes will increase schools’ use of the resources. Just 10 per cent of primary maths teachers in the UK use a textbook as the basis for their teaching, compared with 95 per cent in Finland, he said.

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