Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Open Source, Digital Textbooks for California Schools

From the next school year, schools in California will have access to open source and digital textbooks.

Via Ars Technica
The state's current fiscal crisis is an obvious motivating factor, as Schwarzenegger said that the state's share of textbook spending comes in at $350 million a year. But the crisis may simply be accelerating a process that was already under way.

Once the program is in full swing, a school district with 10,000 high school students could end up with savings in the area of $2 million a year. For now, however, the certification of digital texts will focus on various areas of math and science: Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Earth Sciences.

Digital publishers are already able to submit their work for approval to California Learning Resource Network, which will handle the evaluation process.

What is new for the CLRN is the focus on open source material. But that isn't necessarily going to force a major change in the material, either. Bridges says they're already working with 10 publishers, and expect that they'll have 14-16 signed on by the time that evaluations of the material are made. "We're pretty excited about what we're seeing," he said. "We actually have one commercial publisher who is submitting several of their textbooks [as open sourced material] for review, so this will be pretty groundbreaking, and I think it will be a paradigm shift for the publishers as well. They're taking a paid resource they used to charge the districts for, and basically allowing the districts to download it for free."
Read the entire article here.

Also watch: Richard Baraniuk on open-source learning

Photo By Aaron Escobar

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