California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (left) is planning to take the weight off the shoulders of the state’s high school pupils. He wants to terminate heavy and expensive textbooks and replace them with free, open-source digital versions.
“California was built on innovation and I’m proud of our state’s continued leadership in developing education technology," he says. 'This first-in-the-nation initiative will reduce education costs, help encourage collaboration among school districts and help ensure every California student has access to a world-class education.
Last year he set aside $350m for school books but, faced with a state budget deficit of $24.3bn, schools should brace themselves for cuts. And with ebooks such as Sony's Reader (which can hold 160 digital books) and Apple's iPhone, with its readable screen, gaining in popularity, Hollywood's own Kindergarten Cop says: “We must do everything we can to untie educators' hands and free up dollars so that schools can do more with fewer resources."
Education staff are working with content developers to come up with a state-approved list of open-source digital textbooks. And if all goes according to the Governor’s plans, pupils will have access to online mathematics and science texts by August this year.
But with digital textbooks costing more than $300 apiece, plus additional training costs for teachers and students, he probably has some way to go to convince California’s teachers of his cost-saving plans.