Print 57 comment(s) - last by Ringold.. on Oct 3 at 7:08 PM

Thanks to two new bills, there is financial relief at last

Whether you're racking up tuition fees now or still paying student loans after graduation, you know one thing is for sure: College is expensive. To make matters worse, the spending doesn't end at a semester of classes -- there's books that need to be purchased as well, and they're worth more than a little bit of pocket change.

But if you're going to school in California, a bit of relief has finally come your way in the form of two bills: SB 1052 and SB 1053. 

Both bills, which were crafted by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), will allow California college students to download up to 50 core textbooks for free in the form of e-books. The e-books are for lower-division courses and are for classes at the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. 

More specifically, SB 1052 allows for the development of the e-books and the creation of the California Open Education Resources Council for e-book approvals. SB 1053 has developed the California Digital Open Source Library to store the new e-books. 

"Many students are paying more than $1,000 every year on their textbooks, sometimes having to choose between buying the books they need or paying for food and other living expenses," said Steinberg. 

The new e-book bills were signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday. They are expected to go into effect starting in the 2013-14 school year. 

Digital textbooks are certainly becoming the new way of learning in institutions around the globe. This new form of educational offerings was further boosted by Apple earlier this year, who released iBooks 2 and iBooks Author that allow for the creation of digital textbooks and makes them available for purchase on the iPad. 


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RE: Free Books!
By Ringold on 10/1/2012 11:30:46 PM , Rating: 3
Not the least of them is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

So could one of George Soros' charities. Or the Heritage Foundation. Green Peace could commission biology and economics texts with their views embedded. Is this really the sort of people we want professors choosing text books from? Do we really want to bring about a system that makes it easier then it already is to indoctrinate bias?

you won't have one or two writers per textbook, but dozens contributing in their spare time, continually refining these textbooks as time goes on.

Yes, because the United Nations does a GREAT job of producing joint papers and statements... Creating a project that inherently invites people from different perspectives together to try to hash out a common work is nuts, the only thing the UN can heartily agree on is to continue existing. Everything else, including things like "maybe that government should stop murdering people," is open to vicious debate.

I wish people would agree that open-source has its place and some useful functions, but its inherently a niche endeavor. Writ large, it's the net's version of communism, and writ large, committees and communism rarely ever work. The incentives and ... well, read an econ book, open source and communism both only work well universally if we're all 100% altruistic angels. Which we're not.

RE: Free Books!
By Etsp on 10/2/2012 12:17:18 AM , Rating: 2
Your argument is terrible. Any organization can pay for a book to be written as it is according to their own slant (and they do) and as a result, professors already have such books to choose from when determine what to use in a course. I don't see how this system is any more vulnerable to biased works than privately published books.

As far as your comparison of sourcing books to the UN, that isn't even applicable. If it was, it would apply to any undertaking that requires more than 3 people.

When a group of people work together on ANY project, there will be some friction and dissent.

At the UN, each country is primarily motivated towards doing what benefits itself, NOT the world as a whole. That's why they can't get anything done. They exist to negotiate to the benefit of their country, as a result, they can't easily agree on ANYTHING.

As far as open-source being a niche, that's certainly true. However, by its very nature, education is a perfect fit for it. That's why it's so widespread in universities.

Communism works for ideas and knowledge. It does not work for manufacturing. That is not to say that communism should be enforced, but rather that organizations have the choice to participate in an open source project.

They have a choice to put their work into the public domain. By leaving it up to volunteerism to provide the texts, there is no dependency on 100% of us being "altruistic angels".

RE: Free Books!
By Etsp on 10/2/2012 12:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
*comparison of open sourcing books to the UN

RE: Free Books!
By Ringold on 10/2/2012 3:15:40 PM , Rating: 2
My objection fundamentally rests, I guess, on allowing professors and universities more leeway then they already have in creating the intellectual bubbles that are already out there. At least when a professor has to write his own book, that's a big one-man undertaking. Otherwise, now at least, a professor/department/etc, has to buy books, commissioned and screened by a 3rd party -- the publishers.

Of course, if there's enough demand for something, publishers will commission bad textbooks too, but the current paradigm at least has some more reviews and checks in it than one where anybody and their brother can very easily fork some open-source textbook, stuff in whatever they want, and pawn it off at legit. Makes it too easy, IMO, for professors to create an environment where their students aren't even made aware of other information.

And profit motive has historically created things of higher quality and value over the long run then those dolled out for nothing, so quality is another concern. I can agree that information should be as free as possible, but textbooks aren't produced freely. That may put it back in to the category of things done better by people that hope to turn a profit.

RE: Free Books!
By jeffkro on 10/2/2012 9:45:53 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting you should call open source the communism of the net. The net pretty much runs on Linux and now with Android taking over half the people use Linux day to day.

RE: Free Books!
By Ringold on 10/2/2012 3:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, there's that old open-source android chestnut. Poor example for open source enthusiasts; android's just a platform for different peoples walled gardens. How's that Angry Birds source code look? How about all its drives? Oh. Wait.

And iPhone's also put Android sales to shame, despite much higher cost, despite not being open source.

Didn't say open source didn't have a time and place in the world. I just take the position that open source enthusiasts need to understand its limitations instead of thinking its some sort of silver bullet.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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