Last updated on: 8/6/2013 | Author:

Esther Wojcicki, MA Biography

Teacher at Palo Alto High School and Vice Chair of the Creative Commons Board of Directors
Con to the question "Should Tablets Replace Textbooks in K-12 Schools?"

“Students hold strong and passionate opinions about e-textbooks… While a majority dislikes e-textbooks, about 20 percent believe that they are the future – and should be. Perhaps I should have predicted such a reaction given that early in the school year many of these students had written a fiery editorial about e-textbooks in their social studies classes. In part it read, ‘… online textbooks hinder study habits and force the use of computers. … and are detrimental to learning and inconvenient.’ The editorial concluded with these words: ‘If the school wishes to cultivate the use of e-books, it should at the very least offer students the option to continue using the old, hardcover books.’ At one point, we did a straw poll with the option of a free Kindle with all their books loaded on it or their old textbooks. The result: 100 percent voted for their heavy, old textbooks…

Students were adamant that it was ‘much easier to learn’ from a textbook. (Several students did say that they don’t like carrying heavy books.) With hardcover books, they told me, they can highlight sections and flip through and scan pages more easily; reviewing the highlighted pages helps them remember facts. Portability also was an important factor: With a textbook they could study in random places like at after-school games or practices or they could take it with them to a friend’s house, and no one would ever want to steal it, unlike a Kindle. They said that digital devices in general were hard on the eyes, hard to read outdoors, required dealing with a battery, and are fragile… [S]tudents really find it easier to learn from a textbook…”

“E-Textbooks to iPads: Do Teenagers Use Them?,”, Summer 2010

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Creative Commons, 2008-present
  • Board Certified Teacher, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2000-present
  • Journalism and English Teacher, Palo Alto High School, 1984-present
  • Educational Consultant, Google Teacher Outreach and Google Teacher Academy, 2005-2006
  • Blogger, Huffington Post and HotChalk
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Developmental Studies Center
  • Member, Board of Governors, Alliance for Excellent Education
  • Chairman of the Board, Learning Matters
  • President, Friends of the Lurdes Mutola Foundation
  • Consultant, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Consultant, Hewlett Foundation
  • Member, Advisory Board, University of the People
  • Former Member, University of California Office of the President Curriculum Committee
  • Education:
  • MA, Educational Technology, San Jose State University
  • MA, Journalism, University of California at Berkeley
  • BA, English and Political Science, University of California at Berkeley
  • Other:
  • Awarded the Gold Key Award by Columbia University Scholastic Press for outstanding contributions to student journalism in 2009.
  • Recognized for inspiration and excellence in scholastic journalism advising by the National Scholastic Press Association in Spring 2008.
  • Recipient, California State Teacher Credentialing Commission Teacher of the Year, 2002
  • Recipient, Northern California Journalism Teacher of the Year, 1990
  • Quoted in:
    Pro & Con Quotes: Should Tablets Replace Textbooks in K-12 Schools?