The Governator's great idea to implement open source textbooks in California

Monday, May 11, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger has directed the Secretary of Education to have open source textbooks for math and science in California ready by the fall, and the article on Ars Technica (the link there) doesn't seem too inclined to believe that this will be possible by that time due to California's stringent textbook standards. I'm not quite so skeptical, as long as those involved in producing the textbooks (can't find any info on that) are sufficiently large in number and well-motivated. Wikibooks has a number of great examples of textbooks of extremely high quality (here's one; here's another) that have been prepared over a fairly short period of time, and the only motivation for these has been the creation of material for anyone to use (and perhaps a bit of fame if the book is featured on the front page later on), whereas this is a statewide initiative with a lot depending on it.

Still not quite certain exactly how the process is going to work - the press release here states that:

At the Governor’s request, Secretary Thomas will work with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and State Board of Education President Ted Mitchell to develop a state approved list of standards-aligned, open-source digital textbooks for high school math and science. This list will be compiled after content developers across the country are asked to and have submitted digital material for review.
So it's not very clear just who the developers are and by when they will have submitted the material. Also, the press release doesn't mention exactly how much will be saved with this, but California has a student population of 6.2 million, so perhaps a savings of a few hundred million dollars.

For more comments on the same subject you can see this Slashdot thread as well.


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