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10 online textbooks ready for use in California classrooms

August 11, 2009 |  4:43 pm

Painting online textbooks as a boon to student achievement and school district coffers, state Education Secretary Glen Thomas announced today that 10 free digital high school math and science textbooks are ready to be used in California classrooms.

The likelihood of students tapping them when schools open in a couple of weeks is slim, because of school districts’ textbook-adoption policies and teacher training needs, but Thomas said the move marks the first step in something that will revolutionize education in California.

“This is a groundbreaking initiative,” he told more than 100 representatives of schools, technology companies and others gathered at the Orange County Department of Education. “We think that technology is one of the ways to reform and improve education.”

Educators said they look forward to online content playing a greater role in the classroom but have lingering concerns. Though the online textbooks are free, they question how cash-strapped districts will pay for the infrastructure required – more computers, school-wide wireless Internet access, teacher training programs -- and ensure equal access to students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds.

“I think it’s good we’re talking about it,” said Richard M. Rodriguez, director of information systems for the Vista Unified School District. “At the end of the day, if you want to have a wider plan, you have to know this – who pays for that? ... That’s still not really clear yet.”

--Seema Mehta