‘Look, Ma, no textbooks!’

Even as, for obvious budgetary reasons, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that digital textbooks are on the way and paper ones on the way out, a high school in Arizona proves it absolutely can be done. This year, Empire High School in Vail, Az., graduated its first class “to have started and completed their high school careers without the use of traditional textbooks,” Tech&Learning reports (check out the great class photo!). Governor Schwarzenegger, whose plan is not without its critics, should sign a consulting contract with Empire’s faculty and students! According to the Toronto Star’s well-reported coverage, Schwarzenegger’s plan is that as early as this fall, all high school math and science texts “will be entirely digital and, as the program rolls out, all textbooks on all subjects, K-12, will join them.” Education reportedly accounts for about 40% of California’s budget, and Schwarzenegger’s talking about $2 million/year savings per 10,000-student district. “Come again, say critics,” according to the Star. “Presuming teachers won’t be just distributing print-outs and students will be given some sort of electronic device, aren’t those savings wiped out?” Britain’s Times Online says UK schools could well follow suit. [See also “Why participatory media need to be in school” and “School & social media: Uber big picture.”]

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