Do you really think that digital textbooks, open-source or not, represent progress?
Why would we use these powerful tools capable of liberating knowledge and providing access to primary sources and expertise merely as a way of reducing the cost of textbooks? Textbooks are undoubtedly the most destructive technology in the history of learning. Why would we help maintain their dominance in an age when they are clearly unnecessary?
You can’t find good examples of open-source textbooks because it’s a bad idea, as is Curricki. If teachers had the time, courage and imagination to reject curricular scripts prepared by anonymous committees with indeterminate expertise, they would. What makes you think they will now make the leap to being curriculum writers.
I often take graduate students to a local book store to demonstrate that there are better books on every subject at a variety of developmental levels available in paperback and written by experts. Books and other written artifacts written by thoughtful interesting experts are much more desirable than textbooks, digital, open-source or paper-bound.
I have been creating my own version of a textbook over my teaching career, gathering lessons and materials that have been successful, working to improve lessons that have been unsuccessful, and work through projects in order to help my students to succeed. I have always been a curriculum writer.
I can’t say that I ever divorced myself from textbooks in my teaching career, but I was a big advocate of project based learning. In a way, I have always been creating and drawing upon grade and subject specific resources for my students, I just never bothered to organize, share, and open all of this up in one place, as much as I feel I now can. Sharing my own learning and collaborating with my peers helps me to increase the quality of education that I can facilitate for my students. Saving the money from textbooks wasn’t really on my radar, but collaborating to create something better than what we currently have in Ontario “would be” one of those goals. I don’t think educators have to work in silos and replicate programs, services, and lessons over and over again. It makes me sick to see all the duplication that is going on in education. We share minimally between school districts, we barely share between schools, and we do only a little better between teachers in the same school. Yet, in Ontario at least, we all get paid from the same purse.
I recognize that there are many obstacles that are going to act as roadblocks to a process like this. Educators that know how to edit a wiki, copyright of resources, online scholarship to draw from … the list goes on. I don’t have any answers to these roadblocks, but still I am willing to try. I have learned over my teaching career that best practices are not always easy and sometimes look impossible, but the end product is so worth the journey.
Other roadblocks, like the one Dave mentions in the comments of the post are quite true, not only locally but at the distict level, but need to change.
“Local school admins aren’t interested in/can’t justify spending tax money on producing materials that benefit the -world-. There has to be explicit, undeniable benefit to the local education group, and I’m not sure how to convince my local education folks that open textbooks are the answer.”
If my career path takes me into administration, which it may someday, I hope that I am not one of those administrators. Why has Education taken on so many elements of a competitive business? Is it really necessary to be that competitive that we can’t even share what we are publishing in our schools with other schools? Instead, it is better that we duplicate our efforts – again, and again, and again – and not build on the successes of our peers.