Last month, Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced plans to begin replacing textbooks with free online digital e-books and earlier this week he spoke about the initiative at a press conference. The governor’s plans include a first phase that will give high school students access to science and math digital textbooks beginning this fall. Content developers across the country can submit materials for review up until June 15, 2009 and then a list of standards-aligned digital textbooks for subjects such as geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, calculus, physics, chemistry, biology/life science and earth science courses will be released in August.
The second phase of the initiative is still in development but aims to incorporate interactive content and make digital textbooks available for all grades. A statewide website with all of the available books will also be created.
The webpage notes that the initiative has the potential to save California schools millions of dollars which would free up funds for other spending priorities. In addition, it will give students the opportunity to learn about technological advances as they happen because digital textbooks can be updated more often. Other articles and postings point out that while this initiative could help reduce costs, there are still costs associated with the on-going production of e-books. Additionally, California has a very thorough selection process for educational materials and it is questionable if the materials will be approved by August.
A video of the conference is available on the governor’s webpage.