FL to go eBook by 2015

Florida is one of the first states stepping forward to shift their educational texts to a digital format. Governor Rick Scott signed SB 2120 on May 23, 2011 which starts the move to have Florida schools adopt digital textbooks by the 2015-2016 school year. Right now the public schools are to be working on pilot programs to identify the devices, books, services, etc that will work best.  Of course a big question will be how can schools afford this? But if you start to consider the open source options now available, using digital textbooks can actually be a cost savings. Consider the case of just math and science texts, the average textbook can cost close to $100, but the CK12 (www.ck12.org), makes a number of open source textbooks in all areas of high school math and science, meaning that with just two subjects, a Kindle as an interactive text purchased in bulk at an estimated $100, would actually be a savings of $100 per student. Then too there are other costs with textbooks that may be able to be eliminated, such as warehousing and transporting. As an old science teacher, I would also appreciate not having to re-catalog and check for continued use every year either. Now with those science and math texts, lets consider the standard reading list for high school, from reviewing lists, I have found that in the 11th grade for example that about 80% of those books are actually public domain (the percent drops and you decrease grade levels, but that is still a lot of free books). Figuring that each student needs about 10 books to read in English classes, that would make 8 available for free at what would have been a cost of about $5 per book an additional savings of $40.  Lets hope that the lessons to be learned (6a) are good ones

SB2120: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_s2120__.DOCX&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=2120&Session=2011

1006.282 Transition to electronic and digital instructional material pilot program.—
 (1) A school district board may designate pilot schools to implement the transition to instructional materials that are in an electronic or a digital format.
 (2) For the purpose of this section, the term:
      (a) “Electronic format” means text-based or image-based content in a form that is produced on, published by, and readable on computers or other digital devices and is an electronic version of a printed book, whether or not any printed equivalent exists.
     (b) “Digital format” means text-based or image-based content in a form that provides the student with various interactive functions; that can be searched, tagged, distributed, and utilized for individualized or group learning;  that may include multimedia content such as video clips, animations, or virtual reality; and that has the ability to be accessed through the district’s local instructional improvement system or a variety of mobile, electronic, or digital devices.

 (6) By September 1 of each year beginning in 2012, each school board that has designated a pilot school must provide to the Department of Education, the Executive Office of the Governor, and the chairs of the appropriations committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives a review of the pilot school which must include, but need not limited be to:
 (a) Successful practices;
 (b) Lessons learned;
 (c) Level of investment and cost-effectiveness; and
 (d) Impacts on student performance