The future of education is very much electronic, some educators say.
And it's about to start with textbooks.
The nation buzzed in mid-January when Apple announced its plans to launch an electronic textbook section of its iTunes store, a market that could lead to endless possibilities of using the iPad and similar devices as educational tools.
It appears that high school and college students will be carrying a single tablet loaded with interactive books filled with videos, Web links and other resources instead of thick hardcover texts.
Those features are intriguing to Stockton's Middle College High senior Jessi Vasquez.
"I like the idea of video," she said. "I'm in a class where we use video right now, and it's pretty cool."
Vasquez and her classmate Kayla Hazel are not particularly tech savvy. She and Hazel were hesitant to say they are excited about the future of e-books in the classroom.
"I don't know how to explain it, but I just like the paper better. I like being able to flip through the pages," Hazel said.
On the other hand, Vasquez said that if the e-books can be purchased more cheaply for college courses and there is the opportunity to integrate video and the Internet into the subject she is learning, she's open to the change.
The Lodi Unified School District has been proactive in embracing new technology. The district already has launched pilot programs testing out iPads in elementary schools and high school English classrooms, and is using Rosetta Stone-brand language applications on the devices for English learners.
"Online books are more powerful than normal texts and easier to update," Lodi Unified technology director Dale Munsch said.
Houghton Mifflin, one of the nation's largest school curriculum developers, also piloted an iPad based algebra program in the Riverside Unified School District in 2010/11. The program was well received, and test scores by students using iPads increased, Riverside Unified officials said.
"Students' interaction with the device was more personal," Riverside Unified's Amelia Earhart Middle School Principal Coleman Kells said in a prepared statement. "You could tell students were more engaged. Using the iPad was more normal, more understandable for them."
Lodi Unified Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer, who has a background in curriculum, said she is fully behind the concept of electronic textbooks, especially after she's seen how well received the iPad pilot program has been at McNair High and other schools.
Nichols-Washer likes the idea of interactive learning and the vast resources - beyond textbooks - available on an Internet-capable tablet. She believes students will be more engaged with technology than paper books, and she added that having a collection of books on an iPad will lessen the physical load students carry in backpacks.
"We would need to do an analysis to see how much we spend on textbooks over time compared to what the technology would cost over time," she said. "We also need to make sure we have the infrastructure and support systems in place first. If something as critical as (textbooks are) dependent on technology, we need to make sure the technology works."
Munsch said he sees a variety of ways Lodi Unified and other districts can implement electronic books into their curriculum. The district isn't limited to Apple, but also could use netbooks or tablets that run on Google's Android software, such as the Amazon Kindle Fire.
The challenge is that not all families can afford computers or tablets, Munsch said.
"We've looked at different vendors, and we can get a Dell or an HP (netbook) for $20, but then there's still an issue of connectivity," Munsch said. "We like what we've seen so far. The next test is finding a way to allow students to have the devices that they can take home."