In my last blog, I wrote about how California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had announced a request for publishers to submit free, open source textbooks in high school math and science for use this fall. Since the announcement, the state back-tracked somewhat by making the call for submissions free but not open source. The final approved list of submissions will be locked PDF files of textbooks that will be freely available for 2 years. To its credit, the State of California has made several significant steps forward in this move. They have gone from the typical 6 year adoption cycle to just two years; they have gone from heavy, physical books to electronic files; and they have gone from expensive to free. What they have not done is allowed the math and science teachers across the State of California to edit, add or improve any of these submissions. (To read a recent press release from the Office of the Governor pertaining to this initiative, click here.)
Curriki has submitted two books to this process and it is our understanding that both books, one in Chemistry and one in Earth Science, will be among those approved by the California Learning Resource Network, the body charged with performing the review process. At the time of the announcement, expected around August 10, a link to download both of these books will be available on the State’s official free textbook Web site. At the same time, Curriki intends to make both books available in an open source form on Curriki.org and will be reaching out to Earth Science and Chemistry teacher across the state to work with our content. This experiment will be a exciting proof of concept to see if the community actually can and will use open source materials. We know that classroom teachers across the state have created fantastically engaging lessons, rich with multimedia and hands-on activities. Our hope is that some of these busy science teachers will take the time to supplement the book we have provided with some of this great material they’ve’ developed.
Expect to see and hear much more about this on the Curriki.org site, through our Twitter feeds and through various other outreach efforts. If you have expertise in either of these fields, I urge you to work with us in this historic effort. If you’re not a Earth Science or Chemistry teacher but you know someone who is, please send them this link and encourage them to join us. Our hope is that by the end of next school year, the open source versions of our books are so vastly improved, that the state moves to make the entire initiative open source, in addition to free. We continue to believe in the power of the community to share their collective knowledge. Please help us to show state education administrators in California and across the nation, that the knowledge of their community is amongst its most powerful resources.