California approves free digital text books
SAN FRANCISCO — State education officials on Tuesday named the first 10 digital textbooks that meet California academic standards for high school math and science.
The electronic textbooks, available for use as soon as this fall, were among the first reviewed as part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative.
The “open source” material was reviewed by a state education panel to help school districts identify online learning resources. Electronic textbooks for other subjects will be reviewed in coming months.
Of the 16 digital textbooks reviewed, 10 met at least 90 percent of California’s high school math and science standards, according to the governor’s office. Three of the four that met 100 percent of the standards were published by the nonprofit CK-12 Foundation in Palo Alto.
The governor is promoting free digital textbooks to help cash-strapped districts save money and create interactive learning environments in California, where the government has been forced to make drastic cuts to education funding.
But some experts say many California schools don’t have enough computers or teachers trained in online learning to fully take advantage of digital textbooks.
State officials counter that even classrooms without computers for every student can still use electronic textbooks, which can be downloaded, viewed on a computer monitor, projected on a screen or printed out.
Bill Habermehl, Orange County’s superintendent of schools, said the governor’s initiative will help accelerate the shift toward online learning by validating the academic content in digital textbooks.
“Our problem is going to be funding,” Habermehl said. “We have countries we look at as Third World using digital textbooks more than California.”
On the Net:
Free Digital Textbook Initiative: www.clrn.org/fdti/