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The Rise of Digital Textbooks and OER


Donald Watkins OER

Today's guest post is written by Donald Watkins. Donald is a recently retired technology director at a PK-12 public school in Western New York. He is an open source advocate, PC/Mac user, iPad user, blogger, small business owner, forming a non-profit entity to help at risk students

Digital textbooks have become ubiquitous in all but K-12 schools in recent memory. Daily we read of more and more traditional media outlets either going out of business or discontinuing their print editions.

The proliferation of iPads and other handheld computing devices like the Google Nexus, Chromebook and others have schools and business officials scurrying to find textbooks th at fit on this rapidly emerging platform.

A quick scan of the educational technology landscape reveals a variety of formats and scale of costs some of which are not conducive to equipping students with digital textbooks. In New York State, public schools receive $58.25 per pupil for textbook aid. Given the price of OERmost textbooks that figure is extremely low. Nonetheless a school with 700 students can expect to receive 700 x $58.25 or $40,775 per year at current rates for textbook aid.

Research and the pace of change mean that textbooks in some disciplines are become rapidly outdated. How can a school with moderate or declining aid from national, state and local sources keep their students up to date and adequately prepared while still leveraging mobile educational technology?

Open source ditigal textbooks sound like a great idea, right? California thinks so.

The promise of open source textbooks led California governor Jerry Brown to approve two pieces of legislation in September 2012: The first provides state funding for 50 open source digital textbooks that will be developed by the state’s universities. The second establishes an online library to host the books. (TeachThought, 2013)

While California’s initiative is the most comprehensive to date, other states see the potential. In January 2012, Utah’s State Office of Education announced it would develop a program to make open source digital textbooks available to k-12 students. Washington is considering a similar program, and Florida’s k-12 resources will be produced under an open copyrightdigital textbooks OER license. (TeachThought, 2013)

Currently the de-facto leaders in providing open source textbooks to most of K-12 education are and Open Educational Research (OER). CK-12 Flexbooks represent cost effective, standards aligned texts which are easily installed on nearly any of the current hand held computing devices on the market.

CK-12’s website offers easy to use digital textbooks that are Common Core aligned and are easy to find. Click here for Common Core aligned Mathematics texts for Sixth Grade.

Digital textbooks at are available in PDF, Mobi and Epub format which ensures their use on iPad, Kindle, Nook, Chromebook and more. Signing into CK-12 is easy especially if you already have Google, Facebook or Twitter account.

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References "5 Sources Of Open-Source Textbooks." TeachThought. TeachThought, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 09 Oct. 2013. "NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT." NYSED:State Aid 2011-12 Amendments to Textbook, Software and InstructionalComputer Hardware Aids Statutes. New York State Education Department, 17 June 2011. Web. 09 Oct. 2013.


This is interesting! I enjoyed reading your great post.Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have shared here.  
TBG Digital
Posted @ Wednesday, December 04, 2013 6:55 AM by TBG Digital
Digital technology now making everything more easier for us in various types requirements. Digital text books are really very useful for several needs.
Posted @ Monday, January 20, 2014 8:12 AM by Erican
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