TheTechProfe's Blog

Learnings about technology integration in education from a local ed tech head in the Monterey Bay.

Hybrid digital reading program gains favor among cost-cutting districts

An additional seven school districts announced Wednesday adoption of a reading program that combines existing hardcover anthologies with digital teacher resources – all for about a third of the price of new alternatives.

Combined 54 districts representing more than 350,000 California students are now using the Medallion Edition from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and expectations are many more districts will sign-on in the near future.

Company officials said that a completely new reading material program, updated to meet California’s revised standards can cost more than $100 per student. But they specifically designed the Medallion to compliment a previous reading package put out by the publisher that meets all state requirements but at a far lower cost.

“Districts were telling us that they wanted to keep using their current program,” explained John Sipe, Western Region Vice President at Houghton.

“But the only way they were going to be able to do that was by updating all their teacher-facing material,” he said. “Districts loved it because they weren’t adding a whole new program they were simply updating what they already had.”

Newly signed on to the system are Fresno Unified, Garden Grove, Escondido Union, Corona-Norco, Orange, Irvine, Visalia and Ocean View Unified.

The announcement comes as educators and public officials – both here in California and nationally – are putting new emphasis on alternative platforms for instructional materials.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s free digital textbook program that was launched last spring has enjoyed some success in linking classroom teachers with textbook publishers.

Earlier this week, the Alliance for Excellent Education released a report saying that education trails many other parts of the national economy in bringing new technological advances into the mainstream setting.

“Education has trailed most other sectors in effectively applying new technologies to boost productivity and outcomes, but now is the time to move from thinking about technology as an add-on tool to ensuring that it is integrated into all educational settings,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance, former governor of West Virginia, and author of the report.

Sipe agreed, noting that instructional material publishers – like all other content suppliers – are looking forward into the not too distant future where everything will be delivered electronically.

“We’re trying to build a bridge from today’s textbook program to tomorrow’s program which will be heavily digital," he said.

To read more about the Medallion Edition visit:

To read the Alliance report visit: