Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reinventing Textbooks News edition 1.0

read the PR @ KIRTAS.com
"Today, Kirtas announces a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Libraries to make over 200,000 titles available to the public in a unique way.

Using existing information drawn from Penn's catalog records, Kirtas is able to offer out-of-copyright books for sale through its own retail site, www.kirtasbooks.com. What makes this initiative unique is that the books can be offered for sale before they are ever digitized, so there is no up-front printing, production or storage cost."
I wonder who's getting the clicks.

Anyway, consider the difference between this and "time/content specific workbooks" or "textbook chapters on demand" or "MyTextbooks" or "MynewsLetters" or whatever name is going to work in any particular market.

"Content, IP, the school system will never change, blablablablabla," you say?

I guess you didn't see this article published way back in November 2007 at USA Today.

Free online materials could save schools billions.

. . . But the idea has been slow to make a mark in the less technologically savvy K-12 world.

That may soon change. Websites such as hippocampus.org offer free materials tied to high school textbooks, and several college-level open-source projects are trickling down to K-12 schools.

The California-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is funding K-12 open-source projects worldwide, including English-language training for native Chinese- and Spanish-speakers.

Here comes the really cool part!

But perhaps the most significant development is at the most elementary level. Last fall, a Florida textbook adoption committee approved Free-Reading, a remediation program for primary-school children that's believed to be the first free, open-source reading program for K-12 public schools. It's awaiting approval by Eric Smith, the state's incoming education commissioner, who could approve it by mid-December.

Here comes the ooops! moment. . .
Florida is one of the top five textbook markets in the USA, so its move could lead to the development of other free materials that might someday challenge the dominance of a handful of big educational publishers.

Gosh. I hope the folks in Texas and California don't get wind of this.

I don't know about you, but I'm smelling some very ripe low hanging fruit. So why exactly aren't why jumping into the textbook business? Or if we are, how come nobody knows it?

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