Monday, October 01, 2012

Governor Brown signs California open source textbook bills

Spurred by the rapidly rising cost of textbooks, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills designed to provide Creative Commons textbooks and other teaching material to students in large-enrollment lower division courses. Senate Bill 1053 establishes the California Digital Open Source Library and Senate Bill 1052 establishes the California Open Education Resources Council to oversee and acquire material for the library.

As I read it, the nine member Council will be composed of three faculty members from University of California, the California State University and the California Community Colleges and this is what they will do:
  • Determine a list of 50 lower division courses in the public post secondary
    segments for which high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks
    and related materials would be developed or acquired
  • Review and approve developed open source materials and to promote strategies for production, access, and use of open source textbooks to be placed on reserve at campus libraries in accordance with this section
  • Regularly solicit and consider, from each of the statewide student associations of the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges, advice and guidance on open source education textbooks and related materials, as specified
  • Establish a competitive request-for-proposal process in which faculty members, publishers, and other interested parties would apply for funds to produce, in 2013, 50 high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials, meeting specified requirements
  • Submit a report to the Legislature and the Governor on the progress of the implementation of these provisions by no later than 6 months after the bill becomes operative and to submit a final report by January 1, 2016

This sounds good, and I am optimistic, but have a couple of questions:

Is the bill funded? The act states that all of this is conditional upon funding with State, Federal or Private funds.

At first, publishing companies opposed the bills, then removed their opposition. I wonder what they are thinking. Will they be applying for funds to produce these textbooks? How big a business might that end up being?

Finally, will these end up re-purposed versions of traditional textbooks, or will the library also acquire born digital teaching and learning materials?

It will be interesting to see how the funding goes, who ends up providing the textbooks in 2013 and how much it costs the tax payers.

#digilit #jiscdiglit #highered #edreform #MOOC #pedagogy #EDUCAUSE #bonkop