At Empire High School in Vail, Ariz., students use computers provided by the school to get their lessons, do their homework and hear podcasts of their teachers’ science lectures.
Down the road, at Cienega High School, students who own laptops can register for “digital sections” of several English, history and science classes. And throughout the district, a Beyond Textbooks initiative encourages teachers to create — and share — lessons that incorporate their own PowerPoint presentations, along with videos and research materials they find by sifting through reliable Internet sites.
Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.
“Kids are wired differently these days,” said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish school system in Lake Charles, La. “They’re digitally nimble. They multitask, transpose and extrapolate. And they think of knowledge as infinite.
“They don’t engage with textbooks that are finite, linear and rote,” Dr. Abshire continued. “Teachers need digital resources to find those documents, those blogs, those wikis that get them beyond the plain vanilla curriculum in the textbooks.”
In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this summer announced an initiative that would replace some high school science and math texts with free, “open source” digital versions.
With California in dire straits, the governor hopes free textbooks could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
And given that students already get so much information from the Internet, iPods and Twitter feeds, he said, digital texts could save them from lugging around “antiquated, heavy, expensive textbooks.”
The initiative, the first such statewide effort, has attracted widespread attention, since California, together with Texas, dominates the nation’s textbook market.
Many superintendents are enthusiastic.
“In five years, I think the majority of students will be using digital textbooks,” said William M. Habermehl, superintendent of the 500,000-student Orange County schools. “They can be better than traditional textbooks.”
Schools that do not make the switch, Mr. Habermehl said, could lose their constituency.
The Latest on: Open source textbooks
Searching Open Source Material in the Age of Information
on May 16, 2018 at 8:56 am
Open source material can be retrieved from a myriad of public sources including radio, television, press agencies, newspapers and other periodicals, as well as books, blogs, social media platforms, and other websites on the internet. Information from these ... […]
Where Are All the Faculty in the Open Education Movement?
on May 16, 2018 at 4:52 am
The textbook giants are really good at selling their products ... This is often referred to as “openwashing” or the attempt to market a product as open source when it is quite the contrary. Faculty need to be aware of these misleading messages. […]
19 Books These Top Executives Say Showed Them the Way to the Top
on May 15, 2018 at 4:23 am
Here's a pile of books recommended by high achievers ... Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, an open source software company which has fostered the widespread growth of open source across industries and doubled the company's revenue during his 10 years ... […]
Security Innovation Supports Open Source Community with Free Security Tools to Identify and Mitigate Software Vulnerabilities
on May 14, 2018 at 6:15 am
“In addition to developing and releasing free and open source tools and software ... Collectively the team has also published 18 books, and holds 10 patents (8 approved and 2 pending) covering advanced public key encryption and secure inter-vehicle ... […]
Student Attacks Publishing Cartels to Make Textbooks Open Source
on May 11, 2018 at 10:27 pm
With a new college year looming, students will soon be expected to empty their bank accounts to buy textbooks to accompany their chosen course. These expensive books are controlled and published by large companies and their approach has been likened to ... […]
Federal government on track with pilot program to offer free textbooks
on May 8, 2018 at 2:28 pm
The federal government's first major investment in the free use of textbooks remains on track ... senator's letter and that the agency supports development and sharing of open-source materials. "Without a well-designed dissemination, faculty training ... […]
Pilot program to focus on free college textbooks
on May 8, 2018 at 8:07 am
The US Department of Education is in the process of developing a pilot project to disseminate open-source materials to colleges and universities to help students save money on textbooks. Congress appropriated $5 million for the project in the 2018 budget ... […]
Free textbooks? Federal government is on track with a pilot program.
on May 7, 2018 at 9:00 pm
[How college students can save money on pricey textbooks] Against that backdrop, open-source textbooks have emerged as a cost-effective solution for cash-strapped students. Open-educational resources include many of the same digital textbooks, streaming ... […]
Facebook Open Sources AI Framework That Now Powers 6 Billion Translations a Day
on May 7, 2018 at 2:10 am
Facebook calls the tool chain “PyTorch 1.0.” It includes PyTorch, the open source deep learning framework Facebook ... IT journalist and Online Editor at Slator. Loves books, movies, and gadgets; writes for a living, but codes for fun. […]
States are moving to cut college costs by introducing open-source textbooks
on April 16, 2018 at 7:01 pm
Every cost associated with higher learning has steadily increased over the past decade, but none more so than college textbooks. While tuition increased by 63% between 2006 and 2016, and housing costs increased by 50%, the cost of textbooks went up by 88% ... […]
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