Tuesday, June 09, 2009
This is an update to this post a few weeks ago. It turns out that this is now going to be a sure thing and students in California starting in September will not be using paper textbooks anymore.
This is one of the bright sides to an economic downturn, as various states and countries begin to think of ideas to save money that they never would have considered before. In California the implementation of this may be a bit awkward at first, but textbooks as they are at present are far too expensive for the real value they contain. The article there says that the average price for a textbook in California is $75 to $100 - for a single book! Now compare that to a $300 netbook. It's this recent decline in price that makes this possible now, whereas a few years ago the digital divide might have been a problem. And added to that of course is the rise of open-source online culture, especially given the success of Wikipedia and the number of universities that have put their course content online for anyone to use. With all these factors in play 2009 is probably the first year where an initiative like this is possible.
Textbook prices are rising over here in Korea as well, and this has made the news quite a bit this year. With high-speed internet access available to nearly everybody, there's no reason Korea shouldn't be able to emulate California as well, assuming that this turns out to be a success.