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California Launches Digital Textbook Initiative

Textbooks: Relics of a time gone by?

Textbooks: Relics of a time gone by? iStockphoto.com hide caption

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My memory of high school would not be complete without the textbook. Lugging those 20 pound beasts of burden to and fro, shoulders aching, my homemade paper bag book jackets tattered and littered with graffiti - those were the days of character building, but those days may soon be over if you live in California. In an effort to save money and speed innovation, Governor Schwarzenegger recently announced a new educational initiative to offer free, open-source digital textbooks to California high school students by fall of 2009.

Even though California's initiative is currently limited to secondary math and science textbooks, some colleges and universities have already dipped their toes in the digital textbook experiment with positive results. Serious challenges await California, but if they can successfully implement the model, it could radically alter accessibility to educational materials and potentially the change textbook distribution model forever. The future is now my friends.

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