I pre-posted the earlier message. I recieved two responses though worth sharing:
FYI, this bill passed the Arizona House but failed in the Senate. The comments under the story are interesting, and rightly point out that the schools would still have to pay for most digital textbooks. They might not end up saving much, if anything.
Those are important points -- people tend to assume that digital will be cheaper, but there is no guarantee. Many of the publishers I have spoke with suggest that the cost of producing digital materials (beyond the ".pdf version of traditional books") are more than those for producing traditional textbooks. Perhaps that is because the tools and skills required to develop "born digital" textbooks are not yet in great supply, and there is much research and validation to be done to verify that born digital content produces better learning outcomes. All of that takes money. Long term, perhaps digital will reduce the cost of textbooks for all -- but in the short term, that seems less likely.
The one phrase of Leff’s (paraphrased) I find interesting is: Computer-based learning is becoming the norm, she said, and can provide a variety of viewpoints, instead of those in just one textbook. That sounds potentially like code for slipping creationism in. Leff was involved in a bill to mandate, among other things, the following: Requires a public educational institution to permit the following activities in the same manner and to the same extent that secular activities are permitted: Prayer or engagement in religious activities or religious expression before, during, and after the school day. Admittedly a little paranoiac, but makes me wonder if we could end up seeing anti-Evolution/pro-Creation efforts masquerading as (or piggybacking on) digital curriculum legislation.
Yet another interesting perspective. It relates to an article by Judith Shapiro that appeared in Inside Higher Education on Friday. Some of the comments in response to Judith's article are very interesting too and offer some interesting counter-points and considerations.