[Athen] CA Digital Textbook Initiative

Shelley Haven shelley at techpotential.net
Fri Aug 14 16:58:55 PDT 2009

When the Governor announced the Digital Textbooks Initiative in May
2009, his goal was primarily budgetary -- to reduce the cost of K-12
education. While 10 of the 16 submitted books met state curricular
standards, accessibility was not one of the requirements for this
initial phase (unbelievable as that may sound). Also, the files
submitted by the publishers were text-only -- no images.

While this may seem depressing, the good news is that this initial
effort is opening up a broader discussion within state government as
to how we should actually approach the concept of moving from print to
digital textbooks. For example: currently, each student has a printed
textbook and can take this book home, but how will this work with
digital textbooks? The Initiative will need to look at (and fund!)
the necessary supporting infrastructure: electronic devices for each
student for individual reading; and access to books at home, since
some families (especially in poorer areas) do not have Internet
access. And then there's the issue of providing teachers with
adequate training to support in-class use of such devices, downloading
files, etc.

It would be great if the Digital Textbook Initiative could be married
with the various accessible textbook initiatives, which in my opinion
are further along in terms of settling on technology standards and
supporting infrastructure. I don't believe the state's initiative is
there yet -- they're more in the concept stage.

- Shelley

Shelley Haven ATP, RET
Assistive Technology Consultant
Shelley at TechPotential.net

On Aug 13, 2009, at 3:43 PM, Sean J Keegan wrote:

> > Are all of these print only materials?


> According to the report that can be downloaded (document page 34,

> FDTI_Report.pdf), the review parameters were only for textbooks in

> digital format available for download or print usage. That being

> said, the press release on the Governor's site (http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/12996/

> ) mentions the following passage:


> <quote>


> Since these digital books are downloadable and may be projected on a

> screen, viewed on a computer, printed chapter by chapter, or bound

> for use in the classroom, schools can take advantage of these free,

> standards-aligned resources using existing hardware - even in

> classrooms without computers or laptops for every student.


> <end quote>


> > I see that they met state curriculum standards but was there

> > also a set of accessibility standards? Audio, Braille, or

> > if richer media, captioned?


> I did not see this information listed as part of the review criteria.


> That being said, I have had conversations with several different

> open educational resource (OER) entities and, while not always the

> case, most are utilizing some type of XML-based markup language as a

> core element. This allows for the potential input and output of

> content that supports accessibility and alternate formats.

> Unfortunately, you are at the mercy of the content authors for many

> of the issues - while the authoring/editing tool supports the

> inclusion of a text description for an image, that does not mean the

> content author will actually include such details.


> Some OER producers are actively making an effort to include

> accessibility as part of the content authoring and content export

> process and my hope is those entities are able to demonstrate models

> for producing content in alternate formats to others.


> Take care,

> sean

> <skeegan.vcf>_______________________________________________

> Athen mailing list

> Athen at athenpro.org

> http://athenpro.org/mailman/listinfo/athen_athenpro.org

On Aug 13, 2009, at 10:35 AM, Sean J Keegan wrote:

> The California Governor's Office released information about the

> Digital Textbook Initiative for K-12 and which companies have met

> the state content standards.


> http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/12996/


> Interestingly, the non-profit organization CK-12 (http://about.ck12.org/

> ) had three textbooks that met 100% of the state content standards.

> CK-12 has an open-content model with the materials licensed under a

> Creative Commons-Share Alike license. Other open content

> educational systems (i.e., Connexions) also did well in some subject

> areas.


> This certainly does address one issue that comes up in discussions

> that "open-source" educational materials are not capable of meeting

> the academic rigor necessary for state or other educational standards.



> Take care,

> Sean

More information about the athen-list mailing list