Well, not quite!
But he is proposing that schools begin to wean themselves off the ‘old-fashioned’ text book and move toward a culture of digital or online learning.
Writing in the San Jose Mercury, the Governator says;
Today, our kids get their information from the Internet, downloaded onto their iPods, and in Twitter feeds to their cell phones. A world of up-to-date information fits easily into their pockets and onto their computer screens. So why are California’s public school students still forced to lug around antiquated, heavy, expensive textbooks?
California is home to software giants, bioscience research pioneers and first-class university systems known around the world. But our students still learn from instructional materials in formats made possible by Gutenberg’s printing press.
It’s nonsensical — and expensive — to look to traditional hard-bound books when information today is so readily available in electronic form. Especially now, when our school districts are strapped for cash and our state budget deficit is forcing further cuts to classrooms, we must do everything we can to untie educators’ hands and free up dollars so that schools can do more with fewer resources.
In February, we helped schools weather this storm by freeing up categorical restrictions on spending, and we must continue making these changes so more dollars go directly into the classrooms.
That’s why I am so excited about the digital textbooks initiative California just launched. Starting with high school math and science books, this initiative paves the way for easier access to free digital texts in California’s schools. By frequently updating texts as they are developed, rather than continuing to teach from outdated textbooks, we will better prepare our students.
For example, many textbooks still describe television technology in terms of cathode-ray tubes, without even mentioning LCD or plasma screens that are being sold today. If California is to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy, this initial focus on math and science texts is critical.
These kinds of digital instructional materials are rapidly becoming available. Across the state and around the world, well-respected educators have designed customizable texts to meet the unique needs of their students. Federal grants have funded research that is free for public use. And now California has put out an initial call to content developers, asking that they submit high school math and science digital texts for our review. We hope the floodgates are open. We’ll ensure the digital texts meet and exceed California’s rigorous academic standards, and we’ll post the results of our review online as a reference for high school districts to use in time for fall 2009.
California must take the lead on using 21st century technology to expand learning and serve our students, parents, teachers and schools better. Even in good economic times, state government should always strive to use taxpayer dollars to the greatest effect. But especially now, it is imperative that we find ways to do more with less.
Last year, the state earmarked $350 million for school books and other instructional materials. Imagine the savings schools could realize by using these high-quality, free resources. Even if teachers have to print out some of the material, it will be far cheaper than regularly buying updated textbooks.
If the clamor for digital music and online social networking sites is any indication, young people are the earliest adopters of new technology, and cutting-edge product options are cropping up as quickly as the latest Facebook fads. However, there are those who ardently defend the status quo, claiming our vision of providing learning materials to students for free would risk a high-quality education.
That’s nonsense. As the music and newspaper industries will attest, those who adapt quickly to changing consumer and business demands will thrive in our increasingly digital society and worldwide economy. Digital textbooks can help us achieve those goals and ensure that California’s students continue to thrive in the global marketplace.
OK, so the initial idea that Arnie wants to replace books may sound radical. But it’s very, very hard to disagree with where he’s coming from. In fact, I’d say, it’s damn near impossible.
Digital isn’t the future – it’s the now. And adopting it wholesale makes so much economic sense as the governor’s text clearly lays out (which, incidentally, you are currently reading on a web page and may not even know about otherwise!).
Adults shouldn’t deny children the opportunity to learn using the medium they’ve already fully embraced.