CA digital textbooks initiative falls flat

CA digital textbooks initiative falls flat

Summary: Here is California's review of digital high school textbooks. As AP reports, Gov.


Here is California's review of digital high school textbooks. As AP reports, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been promoting the idea that schools would use these free texts as a way to save money and bring education into the 21st century.

First, it's interesting to note that it's nonprofits, not the textbook giants, who are producing the best books. The state looked at 16 titles and found that 10 of them met 90% of the state standards. Only four met 100% -- and three of them were produced by the nonprofit CK-12 Foundation. CK-12's other books all scored at least 94%.

By contrast, Pearson Education's Biology text scored a lousy 42 percent. On the other hand, Wiki-oriented groups like Curriki didn't even come close to meeting the California standards; obviously they weren't writing to the standards.

On San Francisco KQED-FM's Forum, Cal. Sec of Education Glen Thomas side-stepped the fact that schools don't have any budget for the laptops or PDAs that would allow student to interact with digital textbooks. His answer: Teachers can print out the books, or chapters, if the students don't have laptops. This initiative, he said, doesn't address the hardware issue.

Hardware's not the only problem with implementing digital texts, school districts say. Here's a report from southern California:

There's a number of steps that need to take place before we can implement digital textbooks," said Tim Ward, Chaffey Joint Union High School District's assistant superintendent of instruction. "We haven't been able to broach those things yet because we're still struggling with our budget."

It's an interesting idea, and it would be something the districts will take on in the future," said Tim McGillivray, spokesman for Pomona Unified School District. "It's not a good time to for some school districts to take this on at this time, especially because of budget cuts. "I would say digital textbooks are a luxury at this point and that very few California school will be using it."

Hmm, no funding for hardware, no funding for teacher training, no requirement to implement. Sounds like pissing in the wind.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Hardware

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  • And does this make any sense?

    I heard a report on Bloomberg radio that teachers in CA were PRINTING the entire digital books out to give to students!

    So let's see. The teachers are using extra paper, printer ink/toner, staples or paper clips, not to mention the time needed to wait for the print job to run. Sure sems like a backa$$wards way of doing things. But is it CA afterall.
  • RE: CA digital textbooks initiative falls flat

    Thank you for the mention of Curriki in your blog. We are pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the groundbreaking California digital textbook initiative with our submission of Chemistry and Earth Science textbooks. These comprehensive collections were assembled from member and partner submissions and were correlated based on the metatags assigned by the contributors. We understand that this method did not accurately conform to the CA standards but that does not imply that the content is not relevant and valuable. Actually most of the content does cover the specific subject matter; and the Chemistry course covers many topics not required by CA. We hope that future digital textbook initiatives allow flexibility in file/document formats that include multimedia, videos and links to external resources. These types of assets were included in our digital textbooks but were not reviewed for California?s alignment to standards.

    We are excited to note that these resources, in part or as a whole, have been viewed and/or downloaded more than 1500 times since the initial announcement of the CLRN free digital textbook release on August 10th. This growing usage of the specific textbook resources supports our belief that the resources have provided significant added value to the specific subject matter for teachers.

    Curriki and the open educational resources (OER) movement support the development and free distribution of open educational materials that can be customized to meet the needs of the individual learner. This type of content development and instructional design promotes a collaborative effort that engages teachers in the learning process and incorporates their expertise, thus meeting the needs of multiple types of learners. Curriki seeks to expand core-learning resources to all media and to have the users grow and perfect the materials as part of the instructional design process. For this reason, we have reached out to teachers in California to participate in the review and the further development of the Earth Science and Chemistry courses, as well as other core subject areas. We view education as a dynamic process that requires continual scrutiny and improvement from all stakeholders; including teachers, parents and students to assure that we are providing the best possible learning experience for all.

    If you wish to learn more about the importance of teacher involvement in the curriculum development process and its impact on teaching and learning in the classroom, I highly recommend a recent study by CTL. You can read the full study at: <*