Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Digital Textbook Initiative

It will be interesting to see how this is implemented and what the results will be:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the first report of California’s free digital textbook initiative - which outlines how high school math and science textbooks submitted under the first phase of the initiative measure up against the state’s rigorous academic content standards. Of the 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science reviewed, ten meet at least 90 percent of California’s standards. Four meet 100 percent of standards, including the CK-12 Foundation’s CK-12 Single Variable Calculus, CK-12 Trigonometry, CK-12 Chemistry and Dr. H. Jerome Keisler’s Elementary Calculus: An Infinitesimal Approach.

“California’s Digital Textbook Initiative gives school districts high-quality, cost-effective options to consider when choosing textbooks for the classroom - not only during these difficult economic times but in the years to come,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This represents an important step toward embracing a more interactive learning environment that leverages technology to meet the changing academic needs of California’s students.”


allen (in Michigan) said...

A while back I grabbed a pdf of an open source text book, not one of the California Open Textbook Initiative books, and ran it through Kinko's web site to see what it would cost to have just a single copy printed.

I had a couple of choices but the high-priced version, full-color, two-sided printing, perfect binding was $32 and at the other extreme was black-only printed one-sided with a spiral binding for $12.

We'll see how this flies but I doubt the textbook publishers will easily give up their cash-cows although it's not at all clear the responses that are available to them.

Darren said...

An ordinary math text might run $80, less than 3x the glorified Kinko's cost. Unless Kinko's offered a hard cover, I can't see such a book lasting more than a year or two.

What would be nice would be to print it at $12 and give each kid his/her own copy that they could take notes on and everything.

But if we find a teacher's edition, what's to stop the students from downloading that, I wonder?

Ellen K said...

It sounds good on the surface, but let me play devils advocate. There is the possibility of students accessing teacher's manuals, true. But worse than that, without a permanent hard copy of some pieces of literature, it is possible for "someone" to change the nature of history, literature, government to reflect a political policy over fact and nobody would know. Review what was said in "1984" about Newspeak and how they would replace known works with new ones and nobody would know. Doubleplusungood just doesn't compare with horrible.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Sorry, I was trying to make the point that a print-on-demand book is the worst-case scenario in terms of costs. Conventional offset printing technology could probably produce a lower quality edition of the book for about $1.50/copy in reasonable-sized runs. Say 5,000 copies.

Then there's the whole issue of electronic versions for which copying costs are zero.

As far as a teacher's edition, beats me.

As the whole music piracy indicates keeping secrets in the age of the Internet is tough to start with and getting tougher. If you want to secure a teacher's edition from the eyes of kids, it may not be possible.

maxutils said...

Reading on a computer isn't reading; it's browsing. It's nice to have a net volume, for those occasions when you forget your book, but it can't be the primary source. Imagine a family of six with one computer.