Sunday, August 9, 2009

The digital revolution of textbooks: now in schools

We wrote here couple of times on the digital revolution of textbooks in universities. Now it looks like this trend is not stopping at universities and colleges. Its next stop: high schools.

Tamar Lewin reported today on the New York Times ("In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History") about this interesting trend. And we're not talking only about digitalizing textbooks and providing them in an electronic format. This is not the big story here. The story is about the new free open-content digital books that can be customized in accordance with every teacher's needs.

One example of this new generation of digital books presented in the article are the "flexbooks" developed by a nonprofit group, CK-12 Foundation, with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide.

Neeru Khosla, the founder of CK-12 Foundation explains in the article the advantages of the flexbooks: “The good part of our flexbooks is that they can be anything you want. You can use them online, you can download them onto a disk, you can print them, you can customize them, you can embed video. When people get over the mind-set issue, they’ll see that there’s no reason to pay $100 a pop for a textbook, when you can have the content you want free.”

It looks like the move to open-source free materials should be fast forwarded in days of budget constrains, but it looks like this revolution will take time, as it tries to revolutionize something which is a significant part the current educational system. It will eventually happen. The question right now is more of "when" than "if".

And there's of course a green angle to this revolution. I'm not sure yet what devices will be used for the digitalized materials, but since a lot of it would probably done on laptops and desktops, it means that not only it will save A LOT of paper, but it will also be more eco-friendly than the current paper textbooks based system (more about the green side of paper vs. digital content can be found here).

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green printing!