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Monday, August 31, 2009

ZDNET Reports California's Open source Textbook Falls Flat: Not Sure if I Agree

Interesting article from ZDNET on the Open Source Initiative in California:

First, it’s interesting to note that it’s nonprofits, not the textbook giants, who are producing the best books. The state looked at 16 titles and found that 10 of them met 90% of the state standards. Only four met 100% — and three of them were produced by the nonprofit CK-12 Foundation. CK-12’s other books all scored at least 94%.

By contrast, Pearson Education’s Biology text scored a lousy 42 percent. On the other hand, Wiki-oriented groups like Curriki didn’t even come close to meeting the California standards; obviously they weren’t writing to the standards.

There are so many standards!  I have to wonder if somehow we should consider writing open standards of some kinds - to me the multitude of standards for so many states are also a hindrance.  Just because California rejected it doesn't mean that some of the texts aren't good ones.  If California is the only one asking this, do we risk all open source textbooks to just be written to California standards?  What if those standards stink?  (I don't know, just saying what if?")

Open source textbooks should be considered just rolled into the maternity ward and I don't know that these rejections can be considered the nail in the coffin for these little infants of the education industry.  I guess perhaps textbook companies hesitate to throw a lot of resources here because... well, they are textbook companies.

Still turning over this whole movement in my own mind to consider the thoughts on this.  Have tested curriki and am concerned about the fact that I write lesson plans so differently than most - would the sharing of the content I create (mostly for students) and absence of documentation to be delivered primarily to administration to hurt those plans in the rating services?  Shall I just keep sharing in the places I'm sharing.  I don't know - but still thinking about what it all means.

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