Bedford Co. Students Get Digital Textbooks in Pilot Program

Bedford Co., VA - Ninety Bedford County middle schoolers will take home digital textbooks in a new pilot program. Each of the county's three middle schools will receive 30 digital devices for students to test.

Teachers learned how to flip through those computerized pages Wednesday and say these digital textbooks are ahead of the curve in several ways: They're designed to meet kids where they are with the technology they're growing up with, and they can also keep up with the times.

Everything Lauren Falwell will teach her 8th grade English students at Forest Middle School this year is inside the lightweight tablets.

"Where a textbook weighs five pounds and you have to lug it home, this is a device they can bring with them to school. They can bring it home. They can take it with them on vacation. They can take it to grandma's house and access it immediately," said Falwell.

But access for all students is something to consider. Bedford County is big with lots of rural places... where you're lucky to get a cell phone signal, let alone broadband Internet.

"That is one of the limiting factors and one of the things that's been considered based on the different devices we've chosen for the different areas of the county is the accessibility of high speed Internet," said Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch.

Schuch says they don't want that to be an excuse not to move forward with new technology.

School staff has been working with the broadband authority to advocate for better service countywide. In the meantime, material can be downloaded on many devices at school.

"We feel like school is one place where technology is not present enough in their lives," said Schuch.

"They're going to be facing technology and we are equipping them now in 8th grade for what they're going to see in the future and that's cool," said Falwell.