Cengage Learning, one of the largest textbook publisher in the U.S. announced two weeks ago that it would begin renting textbooks to students at discounted rates, Here’s an informative article from the New York Times. And, here are a number of responses from NY Times’ readers. I anticipate this is the first of many adjustments that publishers and distributors of educational materials will need to make in order to deliver a valuable service to students. Indeed, this modification addresses student’s temporal, calendar-driven, demand for text books and their increasingly strained budgets. But it fails to individualize the content for students and teachers alike. Different classes, different disciplines, different schools, different students ultimately warrant different content and materials---and while I think that this is less prohibitive at the university level as it is easy for professors to supplement class readings with articles and journals and online essays---I believe every student, kindergartners to graduate level, would benefit from a more thoughtful curriculum.
Here are some examples of localized American initiatives:
1) In Arizona, teachers are encouraged to create lesson plans from mixes of online resources, via the New York Times.
2) At last year’s Ted Talks, Richard Baraniuk of Rice University talked about his vision for open sourced learning content----I think this is where we are going, hopefully. Take a moment to watch a clip from that talk.