Saturday, September 29, 2012

Future of textbook

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Bills SB1052 and SB1053 into laws this week.  Thanks to the laws, California will have $10M to fund the Open-Source Textbook Library starting with 50 of the most popular lower-division college courses.  Once books are chosen and digitized, they will be available online for free and printed format with nominal fee (for $20 or less).

This is a good start.  It means more and more students with tablet computers will be able to access the 50 most popular textbooks for free.  It will help ease the financial burdens of rising college tuition placed to students and their parents, and also allow instructors mix and match content from several sources to create a custom-tailored material.  It has been estimated by 20 Million Minds Foundation that about $162M dollars can be saved by California undergraduate students by creating publicly available digital textbooks.


But even with this effort, California is just keeping up with countries like South Korea.  South Korea has been working on a plan to digitize the entire school curriculum by 2015.  That is starting from elementary school, South Korea will offer all course works through computers and allow students to interact with each other via digital communication.  That's just 3 years away.

Once American education system was the international gold standard.  It is hardly the case these days.  There are way too many high school students without basic reading, writing and mathematical skills.  Ultimately it's due to lack of investments by public sector and commitment from parents to ensure that our children are learning.

Digitizing textbook is just an example.  We must invest more on our future generation by providing the best possible tools to learn and solve tomorrow's problem.

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