Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Winter 2010-11 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Sometimes I wonder if the creators of The Jetsons were prophets. Sure, we’re not flying around in our space cars and I don’t have a robotic maid—yet, but that’s probably where the differences end. Obviously, shows such as The Jetsons and Star Trek were just science fiction, but some of the technology they dreamt up for their fictional shows is a reality today. 

Technology is a strange word with many connotations. It seems to mean “success,” “progress,” and “the future . . . today.” All elements of society have always been affected as technology has advanced. As long as the technological industry grows, so will every other industry. Everything from farming to communication to portability has been affected by technology. And now, the last thirty years has brought technological advancement after advancement to education. Especially right now—technology is revolutionizing the way we educate. What will be next?

There are new ways to learn, new ways to teach, and new ways to live. So it’s no wonder that technology is making a huge impact on the ways we educate as well. Of course, technology does not replace quality teaching, nor will it ever, but when used effectively with one-on-one teaching, technology not only can enhance the quality of one’s education but also can ease the student’s acceptance of it. Like I was saying, education is changing. We’re in a special transitional age right now, from the old way to “the new way.” I’ll explain what I mean by “the new way” over the course of this article.

In the balance of this article, the latter half of which you’ll find in our next issue as a continuation, we’re going to look at some of the events, products, software, and services that are making an impact on the education market. Initially, though, let’s jump into some new hardware and concepts.

The Age of the Digital Book 

Yep, it’s finally here.

The most inconvenient thing about traditional education has been one of its primary tools, the textbook. The weight (and cost) of dozens of books from which we traditionally learn and teach has been a burden we’ve had to accept. But not any more . . .

The companies mentioned below know this and have been developing several exciting products to address this very issue. Soon, very soon, textbooks will be completely obsolete. That’s right, the conventional method of teaching a student using a printed, bound book is now starting to sound quite archaic.

The Internet has become our library, and computers, our textbooks. This is perhaps the single, most notable advancement technology has achieved for education.

Increasingly, textbooks are now being offered in a digital format (E-Book). This is great for those of us who desire to save money and/or just want the product instantly. However, being chained to a computer can be a real inconvenience, and companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble understand that.

Ebook Readers

Ebook Readers (or just e-readers) are small, handheld, portable devices that specialize in storing and displaying complete books. While there are several on the market, I’m only going to talk about a few that are leading the industry.