WHITE PLAINS — At Archbishop Stepinac High School, the backpacks got a whole lot lighter this year because nearly every book — from freshman biology to senior calculus — is now digital, accessible on students' laptops and tablets.
"The last couple of years, this would have been like 30 pounds," says sophomore Brandon Cabaleiro, whose load nowadays includes just his iPad, his lunch and a jacket.
But the lost weight and a book bill that dropped from $600 to $150 were not the main reasons the all-boys Roman Catholic school north of New York City has gone all-in on the growing trend of digital textbooks.
Except for books on religion, all the texts the school uses are part of a digital bookshelf kept on an Internet cloud.
"We went to digital because it makes for better learning," says Frank Portanova, vice principal at Stepinac. "This is the way kids learn today. And the online content is a lot richer. You've got assessments, you've got virtual labs, you've got blogging."