School District Going Digital

Superintendent Matsuoka Unveils Plan to Transition Away from Traditional Textbooks

Cary Matsuoka
Paul Wellman (file)

Wasting little time addressing an ongoing concern among Santa Barbara Unified School District teachers, newly hired Superintendent Cary Matsuoka unveiled his vision for the district’s transition from traditional textbook instruction to an ever-expanding digital world of educational tools. “There’s a place for books, but we have to create space for digital,” he said during the first Board of Education meeting of the school year, on August 23.

Matsuoka detailed a handful of pilot programs, initially for math teachers, during which students would spend a few months trying out cutting-edge curriculum to find the best fit before the district pulled the trigger. He reasoned that the district could spend roughly $50,000 on each pilot program before committing to a larger, long-term investment. He wants the pilots set up by mid-October, feedback by February, and possible procurement and distribution of the new instructional material as early as this coming spring, or by August 2017 at the latest.

“Teachers have been under so much stress and strain developing their own curriculum,” boardmember Kate Parker said. “It’s been an issue for a number of years. I’m very enthusiastic in moving forward … to get our teachers some consistent instructional materials.”

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