Online Textbooks: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the benefit to online textbooks?

Online textbooks are interactive textbooks that can be accessed via a link in eCART.  They provide resources to differentiate and enrich student learning.  Online textbooks allow for personalized learning and can include built in features such as: read aloud, highlighting, note-taking, glossaries, videos, and flashcards.

FCPS students will have access to up to date content using these electronic resources.    

If we do not own a computer, how can my student do their homework?

Students will have access to school computers during the day and after school.  Some schools will have programs where students can check out computers for use at home.  Schools will also provide information about local libraries and community centers with computer access.  Students can also request a hardcopy textbook from their teacher.

Will hardcopy books still be available?

Yes, with the purchase of online textbooks schools received some print copies for classroom use.

How is the county paying for the online textbooks?

The online textbook licenses are a centralized purchase.   Funds allocated for instructional resources in the per pupil funding are being used to pay for the online textbooks.

Can students bring their own computer equipment from home?

Yes, with parent permission students have the ability to bring their own laptops from home.

Can the online textbooks be downloaded to an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook?

Currently, online textbooks cannot be downloaded.  Publishers are working on making this feature available.

Will the online textbooks work on my iPad?

FCPS is currently experiencing problems with the Photon4Kids browser. FCPS is currently working on a solution.

Last Spring, the office of Technology Architecture and Assessment completed its evaluation of the Photon Flash Browser for Kids (Photon4Kids), which is an iPad only app designed for kid-friendly viewing of selected educational Adobe Flash-based websites. It is an alternative to the built-in Apple Safari browser which does not support Adobe Flash content, required to view the majority of online textbooks. No personal data about users is tracked or saved.  

PLEASE NOTE: The regular Photon Browser (a.k.a. Photon Flash Player for iPad), which is a separate app from Photon4Kids, is not approved for purchase or installation on FCPS-owned devices due to bypass of Internet Content Filtering! The ONLY FCPS-approved iOS Flash browsers are Photon4Kids and Rover (which has its own content filter feature).

Photon4Kids is currently available as a paid ($4.99) download on the app store. Unlike most other Flash-proxying web browsers, Photon4Kids meets the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) standards by filtering content. Photon4Kids is similar to the Rover Browser. However unlike Rover, Photon4Kids does not require an in-app purchase and can be purchased via the Apple Volume Purchase Program. All currently adopted FCPS textbooks were accessible as of 3/28/13. Of the several books viewed during the assessment, all functions and features worked as expected except for the highlighter option. In some cases, the text in the books may be small and difficult to read. Also, loading time and performance can be slow and may not be adequate for extended use.

As of March 13, 2014, Pearson will no longer support the Rover application.  If you currently use the Rover app on iPads to access Flash based material, including the online textbooks, you will need to install and use a different service.

PLEASE NOTE: Photon4Kids does allow a user to access Flash-based content in a manner that is compliant with FCPS and Federal content filter policies.


All other third party iPad browsers available through the iTunes App Store provide various levels of Flash compatibility with online textbooks, but proxy the browser content and bypass FCPS content filters. The majority of these apps are NC17, requiring parental permission because content viewed using third party browsers is not controlled via the iPad parental restriction settings. Features and updates to such apps are controlled by the app developers and use of a 3rd party browser is a parental decision.

Why doesn't FCPS use the available textbook apps?

Some of our books are available in the etext version.  While available, they do not allow for interactivity and the user experience is not optimal.  The app has tremendous lag time when loading pages.  We continue to work with all of our publisher  on the development of their products.  Many features that are available today had not yet been developed when we purchased our editions.  Unfortunately, as new features became available they are often not retroactive to older editions.

Why doesn’t FCPS purchase tablet labs instead of laptops or netbooks?

VA SOL tests are not supported on tablets.  FCPS wants to maximize the use of the computer equipment that is purchased. Not all of the online textbooks are compatible with tablet technology.  

Quick Links:

Online Textbook Home

Online Textbook Overview

Computer Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

Mathematics Textbook Information

Social Studies Textbook Information

About Online Textbooks:

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PlayOnline Textbooks in FCPS

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PlayElementary Students & Online Textbooks

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Webpage Curator

Rebecca Tenally

Last Updated

March 18, 2014