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
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- Student Attacks Publishing Cartels to Make Textbooks Open Source on February 10, 2018 at 3:27 pm
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Levin has written books on the internals of iOS and Mac OS X and said the ... They may be easier to find now the iBoot source has been distributed. "Not open-source" The code was uploaded to GitHub by a user account known as "ZioShiba." […]
- New science textbooks could bring students closer to science behind climate change on February 8, 2018 at 6:02 pm
A textbook that’s free, open source, available in print and digital formats and customized geographically to rural southwestern Alaska. Educators and students alike are excited about the new texts. Chefornak high school science teacher Theresa Schallhorn ... […]
- 'Open source' textbooks provide many benefits on January 17, 2015 at 11:00 pm
When Professor Jonathan Tomkin went looking for a textbook to use in his introductory Earth Systems class, nothing was quite right. He couldn't find a book that he felt was worth the high price tag for students. So he put one together with a few colleagues ... […]
- New strategy would drop college textbook costs to zero on March 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm
This semester, the University System of Maryland is exploring ways to bring that cost to zero with "open-source" electronic textbooks — the latest experiment in changing the way students in Maryland and across the nation are taught. Unlike electronic ... […]
- New Hope For Open Source Textbooks on February 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Editor’s note: Verne Kopytoff is a technology journalist who lives the the Bay area. A college textbook can cost a staggering $200. Over four years of study, students can easily spend thousands of dollars on books on top of a hefty tuition. The ... […]
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