Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Texas to Save Bucks with eBooks

The cost of buying school text books for entire states including Texas has been a big discussion point in education for some time now, with the suggestion of purchasing digital books (or eBooks) as a cost-effective alternative.

As with all digital content (such as music, film and app downloads), digital versions of text books are said to have major advantages in terms of reduced production, handing and shipping costs, and are therefore seen by many to be a potential solution to massively reduced education spending imposed by governments. Curriculum supplied in a digital format can also be updated immediately and provide a continuously up-to-date source of reference for the students. Digital textbooks are also seen to be a green solution that will greatly the reduce paper consumption across schools in the state.

When the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced that they intended to replace printed science books used in Texas schools with electronic versions, the well established Texan educational company, “Technical Laboratory Systems Inc” (Tech Labs) had a vision of replacing the books with a new and very ambitious 21st century eLearning solution called “SciTEX Learning”.

Tech Labs, based in Houston, decided to develop a full eLearning solution with engaging, dynamic, multimedia and interactive content as an alternative to ‘eBooks’. After all, most of the elementary schools across Texas are already using media-rich science eLearning materials supplied by tech Labs – why shouldn’t the middle and high schools have access to similar resources as well? They saw little advantage in simply digitizing existing text.

This project was a massive undertaking and required a large and highly skilled human resource to action it within a very short time frame. Tech Labs decided to work with one of the world’s best known science, technology and engineering educational software houses, LJ Create Inc. LJ Create has produced teaching materials for a global market for almost as many years as Tech Labs (Tech Labs was founded in 1977 and LJ in 1979). LJ Create was able to provide a highly experienced and multi-skilled workforce of teachers, eLearning specialists, technical authors, educational editors, photographers, artists, graphic designers, animators, video producers, and software development engineers that the project required.

Tech Labs and LJ have worked hand-in-hand on many successful projects for spreading across three decades. With Tech Labs’ knowledge of the Texas science education specification and a massive and highly experienced eLearning development team effort that LJ could readily supply, the partnership became a winning solution.

The Tech Labs / LJ partnership for school science resources is no surprise to many science teachers across Texas. LJ Create’s science materials supplied by Tech Labs have already been used in hundreds of elementary schools across Texas, with teachers stating that the students’ TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) scores have improved dramatically since their new lab installations.

The result of the big team effort, 'SciTex Learning' is a complete online science curriculum solution for Middle and High Schools in the State of Texas. It is a complete science curriculum especially designed for Texas by Texans. Even the name of the science solution comes from the combination of the words ‘SCIence’ and ‘TEXas’.

Tech Labs was proud to have this brand new range of middle and high school science eLearning resource approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) during the evaluation process in June this year.

The addition of the middle and high school ranges means that Scitex can cover science from Elementary School or Kindergarten up to year 12 (K12).

The new Scitex system covers combined Science at Middle School level and the subjects of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry) at High School level as specified by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

The program features 100% coverage of the 2010 TEKS. 100% alignment to the TEKS is assured with a standards based menu system. Teachers and students select lessons base upon TEKS, student outcomes, or even a specific breakout. Students and teachers can display the related TEKS and student outcomes within the software. This makes the Scitex system easy to use with any form of curriculum mapping.

See http://www.SciTEXLearning.com for more information about this project.

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