[BLUG] California approves OS textbooks
simon.a.ruiz at gmail.com
Thu Aug 20 16:21:08 EDT 2009
On Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 4:50 PM, Steven Black<blacks at indiana.edu> wrote:
>> You make a valid point. Still, when it comes to printing it out on
>> paper, not interesting.
> Oh, you are certainly correct. Printing things out in convienant packets
> is an easy use of the technology that is not allowed with current paper
> book licenses. It isn't really interesting in any sense, though it could
> well be highly useful in the short-term.
Ah. That's right. I totally missed that point.
Legally it's interesting, if not technologically.
>> It's the fact that the teacher can remix and match and personalize the
>> texts to their individual classes that's interesting to me, there.
> I think the attitude of freedom that comes with using free materials
> will really start some things changing. That, in itself, may well be
> really interesting.
Agreed. Someone had to do the GNU work before the idea of free
software was allowed to grab hold as practical or even desirable, and
look what's happened out of that.
> Not to mention it is possible that paper is beneficial to the
> environment by way of carbon sequesteration. (Reduce CO2 by having more
> carbon stored in books.) If we get science to back that as a viable
> solution to global warming, we could well see a future government
> initiative to create -- and store -- more paper-based products. If this
> were to happen we could well see a great influx in the amount of paper
> materials. This may sound like a crazy idea, but I fully expect much
> more crazy ideas to be leapt at as we start to see more disasters caused
> by global climate change.
You know, that's a point I hadn't considered yet. Cutting down trees
as a good thing...
If you planted a large enough forest (or a fast-enough growing woody
plant) specifically with the intent to set yourself up to continuously
cut down significantly sized trees for the purposes of carbon
sequestration, that'd be one thing; I could be okay with that,
Right now, as I understand the number of trees on the planet is still
dropping regularly, I find it really hard to think of that as a really
great idea to be pursuing just yet.
> Actually, what I like about it is while it would make it easy for a
> school to use a book that literally doesn't mention evolution at all,
> it would be equally possible for students to download and read other
> science books. If a student (or family) is unhappy with the lack of
> evolution, it becomes trivial to work around it.
> Compare to the situation now, where if a district doesn't like evolution
> they can either purchase books without it, or glue pages together and
> the student or family has no way to work around it. (Particularly if
> such books are also missing from their local library.)
That's a good point.
I attended an in-service training day led by a teacher, advocating
something called "Layered Curriculum", who does not have a single
biology textbook for her high school classes; she has dozens of them
at all reading levels from 6th grade to postgrad, as well as
collections of audio-visual material.
When she's covering a topic, if a student wants to read up on it they
are then better able to select a text appropriate for them as an
individual, whether they're a hypo- or hyper-fluent reader, an
auditory or visual person, etc.
It's taken her her entire career to build up that collection, and I'd
bet it's mostly if not completely copyrighted.
I'd like to see such a collection available to every teacher in every
school on the planet, whether they take Kathie's pluralistic approach
or simply choose the *one* book they best like.
> Heh. You speak like someone who does this with Youtube. I find Youtube
> to be such a huge waste of time I never go there directly -- I wait for
> someone else to provide a link to something. I let my friends waste
> their time on Youtube, and only look at the gems.
Actually, I prefer your approach as well. ;-)
> I have absolutely no problems with books being aligned to standards. It
> makes sense to have a standard grade in which to teach things, as it
> makes transitions between school districts much, much easier.
> I just wish kids had more time to actually learn the material, instead
> of needing to focus on learning the test.
No argument here. I doubt you'll find any argument from anyone else on
the front lines, either.
> In a way what we're seeing is sort of the return to the values of the
> gentleman scientist of years gone past. They shared knowledge, as the
> sharing helps everyone. They wrote books, certainly, but they were
> rarely primarily dependant upon the book sales to make ends meet.
> When people can contribute timely material to their peers without
> concerning themselves with how to squeeze the most money out of the
> material, then everyone benefits.
Copyright and patent law, while perhaps originally encouraging output
of sciences and useful arts, are now being used as weapons counter to
The most effective way of fighting against the Copyright and patent
regimes, I've come to suspect, is just to show them up by doing their
job better for free.
Then the argument that "without copyright, and people being granted
practically unlimited and indefinite monopolies on certain work,
nobody would produce those works" would be demonstrably false.
I'm happy to see people working on that.
> One of my problems with education was that I regularly undervalued the
> part played by teachers. Part of that was that my preferred learning
> style is listening to lectures and reading. As a child I absolutely
> hated all hands-on activities. It was a massive waste of time.
> Couple that with the fact that people consider "good" teachers to
> frequently be the ones doing a lot of hands-on activities, and, well...
> My idea of a good teacher was one that didn't actively get in the way
> of my educating myself. -- I had a couple really bad teachers, but with
> the exception of an art teacher that really stood out... teachers, in
> general, never really seemed key in my education.
I know what you mean. I'd guess you were a surprisingly early reader
and you were encouraged to gorge yourself on any subject that caught
I had that sort of experience in school, myself.
Most kids need a good teacher, though, to model the educational
process. And I bet even you had a better experience in classrooms
where the teacher, though largely irrelevant to your own needs, took
care of your classmates needs well.
My main point is that resources spent on teacher salaries and
professional development would likely bring greater returns to our
kids' educational experience than the newest edition of the Pearson
> Things get interesting, though, when a kid who loves a particular
> subject can study up on the material during the summer. To my mind, it
> opens up the possibility of children skipping or testing out of some
> classes due to being self-taught... using the same materials used in the
> class-room. This would have been a delightful idea to me as I both loved
> to learn new things and hated to do what I considered busy-work.
Yeah, if a kid is able to prepare themselves enough on their own to
pass the evaluations, why not? They'd merely be one more kid to worry
the teacher if they're made to sit through the class anyhow...
I feel a little pessimistic that this would be a popular usage of the
materials, and fear the idea of parents forcing their kids to do such
things, but I agree it would be awesome for those that took advantage
of it by their own choice.
Off topic, perhaps: when reading this paragraph, I was reminded of the
feeling I always get when on the Wikipedia: "If only I'd had *this* as
I mean, I was the kind of child who entertained themselves reading
encyclopædia articles (think World Book level, not Britannica; at
least not 'til much later...), but I exhausted our encyclopædia and
ended up frustrated for lack of further reading on most subjects.
That, and we were missing 2 or 3 of the volumes (loaners never
returned) so some articles referred to by the others I simply did not
have access to.
If I'd had the Wikipedia, who knows what crazy topics I'd have gotten
into as a child...
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