Monday, November 07, 2011

Anoka-Hennepin teachers write their own online textbook, save district $175,000

CHRIS WILLIAMS  Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The new textbooks in Michael Engelhaupt's statistics class at Blaine High School are kind of cheap and won't last long, but he doesn't mind. After all, he wrote them.

Instead of mass-produced textbooks, the more than 3,100 sophomores in the state's largest district are learning from an online curriculum developed by their teachers over the summer with free software distributed over the web.

Engelhaupt, 31, was one of three district math teachers who spent about 100 hours each developing the lessons, which cost the district about $175,000 less than buying new textbooks.

Engelhaupt said the project began last year when a group of math teachers began talking about new books the district had budgeted $200,000 to buy. They decided they could do a better job.

The problem with mass-produced textbooks, Engelhaupt explained, was that they can cost $65 each and aren't aligned with Minnesota's math tests so the district would be paying for whole chapters that are never used.

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