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

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Individuals with PhDs or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to the study of education or education technology. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to the study of education or education technology.
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?