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
- Intel Software Innovator Johnny Chan: Programmer, Educator, and Open-Source Enthusiast on December 12, 2017 at 7:51 am
In 2014 I decided to learn about open source technologies in my spare time and as a result ... and many other deep learning books and courses online. Coincidentally my partner, who is a conservationist, happens also to be a mushroom enthusiast and so ... […]
- Why Funding Open Source is Hard on December 6, 2017 at 3:25 am
Some developers decide to monetize their efforts through books, merchandise and paid support. However, most developers do not go this route. In reality, many smaller open source projects would not benefit from a support role. And if they aren’t large ... […]
- Student Attacks Publishing Cartels to Make Textbooks Open Source on December 4, 2017 at 3:26 am
Speaking with TorrentFreak, Lear says that his mission is to take down the publishing industry and replace it with an alternative open source system. “Textbooks and pharmaceutical meds have one thing in common: their manufacturers market their products ... […]
- Global E-Textbook Rental Market - Cost-Effective Pricing | Technavio on December 2, 2017 at 7:03 am
Such initiatives by market vendors should boost the growth of the global e-textbook rental market during the forecast period. Market challenge: increasing threat from open-source content Owing to considerable advances in the technological domain and low ... […]
- Open-Source textbooks could be key to cutting college cost on February 12, 2016 at 7:11 am
STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- The standard textbook for Fundamentals of General Chemistry I at the University of Connecticut has a list price of $303. For students who use the version professor Edward Neth is preparing for the fall semester, the cost will be zero. […]
- UMass students, librarians want more faculty to use open source textbooks to save students money on February 25, 2015 at 9:21 am
Textbooks can cost students $1,200 a year. He and other students and librarians at the university are hoping that students will pressure their professors to adopt open source textbooks. MassPirg organized a press conference Wednesday to highlight a new ... […]
- '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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