Seventh-grade history teacher Mark Stevens bellowed a set of 21st-century instructions as students streamed into class one recent Friday at Fairfax County’s Glasgow Middle School.
“Get a computer, please! Log on,” he said, “and go to your textbook.”
Electronic books, having changed the way many people read for pleasure, are now seeping into schools. Starting this fall, almost all Fairfax middle and high school students began using online books in social studies, jettisoning the tomes that have weighed down backpacks for decades.
It is the Washington area’s most extensive foray into online textbooks, putting Fairfax at the leading edge of a digital movement that publishers and educators say inevitably will sweep schools nationwide.
But questions remain about whether the least-privileged children will have equal access to required texts. Many don’t have computers at home, or reliable Internet service, and the school system is not giving a laptop or e-reader to every student.