[BLUG] California approves OS textbooks

David Ernst david.ernst at davidernst.net
Sun Aug 16 09:58:59 EDT 2009


[not about linux, but definitely about Free/Open Source stuff.
Hopefully close enough to topic, it felt like it would be.]

I heard this piece on NPR this morning about the State of California
approving several "Digital" textbooks for Math and Science classes.
Several other media sources have covered this story, all refering to
"Digital" or "Online" books.  I think they are missing the point.  Any
textbook could be distributed in some DRM-proctected format.  These
textbooks are free and open source!  Apparently distributed under the
Creative Commons "Attribution-Share Alike (3.0 Unported)" license,
almost half (7/16) of them are published by the CK-12 Foundation.

People worried about schools in poorer districts wouldn't have the
technology infrastructure to use these textbooks.  Someone pointed out
that a student or a teacher could print out the book if they wanted a
paper copy.  No one noted that some companies could (and I suspect
that they will) offer to print the books, bound and pretty, ready to
buy.  Indeed, they might compete with each other on quality and price
of the paper preparation of the same material.  

I have a B.A. in math, and I think I was probably a senior in college
before I ran into any material that had changed substantially in my
lifetime.  Certainly almost (if not literally) everything in high
school algebra and calculus is material from before the 20th century.
That this should be nicely-presentable in a F/OS format makes total
sense to me.  I'll be curious to see what happens in CA.  I wonder if
they'll ever approve any of the WikiBooks text books.  :)

NPR Story
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111931440

Lots of other news stories on the same subject
http://news.google.com/news/more?pz=1&ned=us&cf=all&ncl=dzjMpz_SewHzTnMB0-RDSTwzwh9OM

California's page with the (downloadable) textbooks in question
http://www.clrn.org/fdti/

CK-12 Foundation
http://www.ck12.org

David


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