Thursday, January 14, 2010

CA Law Requires Digital Textbooks by 2020 - good? or bummer?

Well, in light of recent news regarding the condition of higher ed in California, this is exciting! Senate Bill 48 has just been passed which will take effect on January 1, 2020, requiring all textbooks used in public and private postsecondary institutions to be available in electronic form. Senate Bill 48 states that "the electronic version of any textbook shall contain the same content as the printed version and may be copy-protected."

James Schwab, aid to Senator Elaine Alquist who authored the bill, noted that the law holds the potential to "encourage professors to integrate technology into the classroom; spark more student interest in science, engineering, and math; and give students marketable skills in using technology."

Now what we have to realize is that this concept (having a book available in electronic form and possibly with copyright protection) will very, very likely be as outdated as an 8-track player is today by the time it's implemented in 2020. Why must there be such 9-year delay before implementing a law that would tremendously improve options for students, have the potential to reduce costs for students, and increase the ease of learning online?

Senator Alquist, if you're truly interested in encouraging professors to integrate technology into the classroom, we need to encourage educators to transform the way they're teaching which means moving away from relying upon textbooks for learning. And explain to me how an electronic version of a textbook will spark more interest in science, engineering and math? Finally...and this one really, really, really is important...using electronic version of textbook is not how higher education should be integrating technological skills into our students' learning experiences. Integrating collaborative learning activities through the use of social networking and other forms of participatory learning environments is how we begin to cultivate not only technological skills but skills that are necessary for success in the 21st century: collaboration, global literacy, digital citizenship, innovation.

Is this the best we can do to stimulate change in college learning in California?

OK, I'm not so excited anymore. Bummer.
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