Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Atlantic: California Takes a Big Step Forward: Free, Digital, Open-Source Textbooks

This week, California took a big step forward in the march toward online education. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a proposal to create a website that will allow students to download digital versions of popular textbooks for free.

The new legislation encompasses two bills: One, a proposal for the state to fund 50 open-source digital textbooks, targeted to lower-division courses, which will be produced by California's universities. (Students will be able to download these books for free or pay $20 for hard copies.) The other bill is a proposal to establish a California Digital Open Source Library to host those books.

On the textbook side, California will ask the California Open Education Resources Council, comprised of school faculty, to create and oversee a book approval process -- which will include the development of a list of targeted courses "for which high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials would be developed or acquired" by the University of California, California State University, or California Community College systems. [snip]

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The new law will also be something of a technological experiment -- and an intriguing one, at that. For one thing, it makes a point of extending its impact beyond California's borders. Any digital textbooks created under the council's auspices, the new legislation says, must be placed under a Creative Commons license -- which will allow faculty at universities in other states to make use of the textbooks for their own students. And the textbooks, furthermore, must be encoded in XML (or another "appropriate successor format") to facilitate their re-use.

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[more]

Source and Full Text Available At 

[http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/print/2012/09/california-takes-a-big-step-forward-free-digital-open-source-textbooks/263047]

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