The Texas Education Agency has made a deal with the New York Times. This deal will allow for the use of an electronic database.
This database is different than a typical database. It isn't based on MYSQL or Oracle programming knowledge, and won't be used by IT professionals or database administrators (at least most likely). No, this database is for the kids. In essence, the creation is an interactive portal that will search news articles - all the way back to 1851. If a student wants to write a paper on the Gettysburg Address, for instance, he can pull up the paper's entire text, and, the various news stories written about it to gather relevant information. Students can also now access modern content, stories, related multimedia, and source content related to all of the news recorded over the last 150 plus years.
Texas also plans to eventually use the database to deliver vast amounts of varied educational content to schools all over the state. The $1 Million contract, which initially purchased statewide use of the portal, might change based on usage numbers (though these increase are likely to be very slight).
This is a small footnote in the ongoing story of weeding out textbooks. Books are getting old and outdated faster than publishers can release them. Information technology principals change every day, databases across the world are updated, and hardware improves with the times. With an up to date, valid news database such as this, Texas will have the opportunity to provide quality information for children in their public schools for decades to come. At least that is what Anita Givens hopes. Given's is the agencies chief of textbooks and technology. She states that the "statewide license allows for economies of scale that we just don't see in any other kind of agreement." This makes a lot of sense for Texas.
Down the line, this project will open up the opportunity for "ePortfolios," where students can display their classroom projects and writing assignments. They will even be able to store large multimedia files and band/choral performances with this new technology. This plan most excites Robert Scoot, who says that the ePortfolios are "going to be a pretty big deal in a few years... It's an opportunity for teachers and students to show what happens on every other day besides test day."
This program should help to save money in the long run - at least that's what the state is hoping. "It's a system to organize future content," Scott said. "Stay tuned. We'll be adding more apps."