Officials in the Lawrence school district have been checking into electronic textbooks for at least a decade and for now, at least, the best solution they can see is using a mixture of digital materials and good, old-fashioned textbooks.
"We look at it all the time," said Nancy Horner, information resource specialist for the district.
Some textbook publishers, such as Scott Foresman, offer an attractive option: If you buy their textbooks, they also provide free access to the books online.
But such capabilities aren't available for all titles yet, Horner said.
"We think it's going to be the best combination of flexibility and access to resources," she said. "Each format has its strengths and its weaknesses."
If a textbook is online, any child who has access to a computer can access the material, Horner said. But if you have the print version, it allows for easier handling and probably less eye strain.
The district now uses some science textbooks that also have online formats that teachers and students can access with a password, she said. Officials hope to have e-versions of social studies textbooks soon.
"As they become available, we are going to try to provide them within our resources," she said.