La Crosse, WI (WXOW)—Ms. Jeanne Halderson's seventh grade class traded in their textbooks for e-books this quarter at Longfellow Middle School.
Halderson makes her lessons in the form of e-books that the students can download on their iPad; then they do their assignment at home and email the finished assignment back to her when they're done.
They're paving the way for other La Crosse School District students who could be doing the same over the next few years.
"One of the greatest benefits," Halderson said, "is you can have video or audio embedded right inside of the book."
She said that will help students with a variety of learning styles pick up on the material quicker.
Students in her class said they are happy to get rid of their heavy backpacks and use the iPad.
"I think they're really cool," Brandyn Nelson, Longfellow Middle School student said. "Last night I was messing around with it and I was going to go downstairs and ask my mom but I could just push play on the section and listen to it."
"I like it better because it's like you (Ms. Halderson) teaching us instead of us having to learn randomly," Bree Blackwell, Longfellow Middle School student said.
Halderson said the iPads are treated like library books, students are responsible for them once they check them out from the library. If something happens to it, the students are responsible too.
But, La Crosse Superintendent Randy Nelson said insurance programs out there specifically for that purpose.
Some home insurance companies will insure students for other people's property, Halderson added.
While e-books are a great learning tool, Nelson said he's not convinced that they're actually cheaper than traditional textbooks.
"The average text book costs about $100," Nelson said. It costs about $20 to make a book, print and bind; the other $80 of the cost is associated with the development of the book, like paying editors."
He said he's skeptical that moving the book from print to web will drive down those prices because they still have to pay the writers and editors.
Halderson said this technology has been one of the best things to happen to her class.
"I think they're really motivated to do the homework, just based by the fact they're doing it and turning in all times of the day," Halderson said.
She also feels this has re-energized her teaching.
"I haven't been this excited about teaching since my first year of teaching," Halderson said. "And that says a lot because I'm a very excited and energetic teacher. But to me this is just beyond my imagination that we can bring this kind of learning to kids."