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      Educators adjusting to 21st century learning methods

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- As education leaders and state legislators are considering approaches to fixing South Carolina's education system, several people are already hard at work shaping the future of education.

      One of those people, Nathan Yon, says his new school opening this fall focuses on a combination of traditional and online learning.

      "You're taking the best practices of...a virtual school and the best practices of a traditional school and combining them together," said Yon, executive director of the South Carolina Science Academy, a charter school, adding the school was developed by a group of educators who wanted to create a 21st century model for education that keeps up with constant changes in technology.

      "It's hard to predict even what's going to happen in the next five years with education, but one thing we do know is if we don't start embracing these trends, then we are going to start suffering the consequences of it later," said Yon.

      Some, though, question whether online learning and digital textbooks are really any better than traditional learning methods. Researchers at the University of South Carolina College of Education want to find out.

      "I'm investigating how electronic books can be used to potentially enhance educational processes," said William Morris, an instructor at USC's College of Education.

      At this point the research is too early in its development.

      "We can't say that an electronic book is better than a paper book," said Morris. "There are paper books that are written very poorly. There are also electronic books that are designed very poorly. The question is based on how people learn."

      Researchers expect it will take several more years to come to a conclusion about how much more or less beneficial electronic textbooks may be.

      For now, Yon says middle schoolers who do learn better on a digital platform will have a free place to do that at his school.