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bcrowell (177657) writes "California Governor Jerry Brown has
signedSB 1052 and
authored by state senator Darrell Steinberg, to create free textbooks for 50 core
SB 1052 creates a California Open Education Resources Council, made up of faculty from the
UC, Cal State, and community college systems. The council is supposed to pick 50 core courses.
They are then to 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." The bill doesn't become operative unless the legislature funds it — a questionable process in California's current political situation. The books could be either newly produced
(which seems unlikely, given the 1-year time frame stated) or existing ones that the state would buy or have
free access to. Unlike former Gov. Schwarzenegger's failed K-12 free textbook program, this one specifically
defines what it means by "open source," rather than using the term as a feel-good phrase; books have to be
under a CC-BY (or CC-BY-SA?) license, in XML format. They're supposed to be modularized and conform to state and W3C
accessibility guidelines. Faculty would not be required to use the free books." Link to Original Source top
California State Senator Proposes Open-Source Text
bcrowell (177657) writes "Although former Governor Schwarzenegger's free digital textbook initiative for K-12 education was a failure,
state senator Darrell Steinberg has a
new idea for the state-subsidized
publication of college textbooks (details in the PDF links at the bottom). Newspaper editorials
It will be interesting to see if this works any better at the college level than it did for K-12, where
textbook selection has traditionally been very bureaucratic. This is also different from Schwarzenegger's
FDTI because Steinberg proposes spending state money to help create the books. The K-12 version
suffered from legal uncertainty about the Williams case,
which requires equal access to books for all students — many of whom might not have computers at home.
At the symposium where the results of
the FDTI's first round were announced, it became apparent that the only businesses interested in
participating actively were not the publishers but computer manufacturers like Dell and Apple, who wanted to sell
lots of hardware to schools." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell (177657) writes "I'm a college physics professor. My students all want to use calculators during exams, and some of them whose native language isn't English also want to use electronic dictionaries. I had a Korean student who was upset and dropped the course when I told her she couldn't use her iPod during an exam — she said she used it as a dictionary. It gets tough for me to distinguish networked devices (iPhone? iTouch?) from non-networked ones (calculator? electronic dictionary? iPod?). I give open-notes exams, so it's not memory that's an issue, it's networking. Currently our classrooms have poor wireless receptivity (no wifi, possible cell, depending on your carrier), but as of spring 2011 we will have wifi everywhere. What's the best way to handle this? I'd prefer not to make them all buy the same overpriced graphing calculator. I'm thinking of buying 30 el-cheapo four-function calculators out of my pocket, but I'm afraid that less adaptable students will be unable to handle the switch from the calculator they know to an unfamiliar (but simpler) one." top
bcrowell writes "The results of California Governor Schwarzenegger's Free Digital Textbook Initiative were announced today at a symposium near Los Angeles. Sixteen free high school math and science textbooks were evaluated based on state standards. Almost all the books were Creative Commons-licensed works produced by individuals and nonprofits, with the exception of a consumable biology workbook from Pearson. Participants diverged wildly on open-source versus free-as-in-beer, DRM versus open formats, whether books ought to be fluid or guaranteed not to change for a set period, and on top-down versus bottom-up approaches. Computer manufacturers and traditional publishers were there in force to explain why they should get a bigger share of the shrinking California education budget." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell writes "California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has released a list of 20 free math and science textbooks that were submitted as part of the state's Free Digital Textbook Initiative. Four of the books are from traditional publisher Pearson Education. The other 16 are from nontraditional content providers (including ck12.org and Sun spin-off Curriki.org), and nearly all of these are under Creative Commons licenses. The press release doesn't include URLs, but here are the ones I was able to track down (all but Pearson's): Earth Science 1,
Biology and Life Science: 1,
Algebra, Trig, and Geometry:
Chem and Physics:
Submitters had to provide documentation to show that their books were aligned with state standards. The state will now review the books, and will release its final conclusions in August. The project is only dealing with high-school books right now; the state's textbook selection for K-8 books requires a much more arduous review process, which often results in only a couple of books being approved on a particular topic.
This transcript of a recent speech by the Governor includes some interesting questions from students and teachers. Schwarzenegger expects that some schools will end up wanting to print out the books, but says that that is still better than buying heavy $100 textbooks that are only updated once every six years. The initiative has been discussed previously on slashdot." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell writes "Starting in 2005, people like me who used the Ameritrade online stock brokerage received pump-and-dump spam sent to the email addresses we'd supplied to Ameritrade. It was discussed here on Slashdot. Although many of us had used throwaway email addresses from obscure domains, Ameritrade insisted for several years that there was no security breach, and the spammers had found the addresses using "'brute forcing' or dictionary techniques."
Matthew Elvey found a lawyer to file a class action lawsuit in 2007, and posted about it on spamgourmet.com. The settlement was approved in May, and as a member of the class, I got a postcard about it today. Elvey complained that he was kept in the dark about the case, and tells Wired he "was deceived into the terms of the settlement. I don't think it does anything substantial." Members of the class will receive a year's free subscription to Trend Micro Internet Security Pro. The entire $1.9 million cash portion of the settlement will go to Elvey's lawyers. TD Ameritrade now says it was the victim of a network attack (not an inside job), which compromised social security numbers and email addresses. They're going to seed their database with fake user accounts in order to detect any further leaks.
Personally, I transferred my stocks from Ameritrade to another brokerage as soon as I saw the problem. I don't want my life's savings being held by a company that's this clueless about security." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell writes "Google has settled the class-action lawsuit that was brought against them because of their Google Book Search program, which has scanned, OCR'd, and indexed the texts of millions of books, both public-domain and copyrighted. Google says the program falls under the fair use exception to copyright, but has settled the suit on terms that require it to pay an initial lump sum, and also to give 63% of revenue to copyright owners. Google can place ads next to copyrighted texts." top
bcrowell writes "The LA Times has a front-page article about how open-source college textbooks starting to gain traction. One author says, "I couldn't continue assigning idiotic books that are starting to break $200," and describes attempts by commercial publishers to bribe faculty to use their books. The Cal State system has started a Digital Marketplace to help faculty find out about their options for free and non-free digital textbooks, and the student group PIRG has collected 1200 faculty signatures on a statement of support for open textbooks." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell writes "A New York times editorial has a plug for Flat World Knowledge, a startup that will offer college textbooks inexpensively (~$30) in print, and free as PDFs. They plan to make their profits from add-ons like podcast study guides and mobile phone flashcards. Books will be CC-BY-NC licensed. Mashups and customizations are encouraged, but the NC license is incompatible with strong copyleft licenses such as the GFDL used by Wikipedia. Other companies trying to find a workable business model for free textbooks include Ink Textbooks (revenue from online homework) and Freeload Press (revenue from ads inside the books). So far, none of these companies seems to have succeeded in building up much of a catalog of books, and it seems more common for authors of free textbooks to take a DIY approach, putting PDFs on their own web pages, and sometimes arranging POD with vanity-press publishers like lulu.com. Lotsandlots of web sites exist to help people find free textbooks, and CalPIRG has an active campaign pushing for affordable textbooks." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell writes "Wal-Mart's new $200 Linux PC has generated a lot of buzz among geeks. Although they're sold out of stores, I bought one for my daughter via mail order, and have written up a review of the system. The hardware seems fine for anyone but a hardcore gamer, but the preinstalled gOS flavor of Ubuntu has a lot of rough edges." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell (177657) writes "The NY Times has an article about the use of tech such as keystroke loggers and GPS in divorces. They make the point that while Google may have access to some of your personal information, Google doesn't care about it as much as your ex does. Some of their examples about home PCs seem to bring home the point that your computer's security is almost impossible to defend against someone who has physical access to the machine." Link to Original Source top
bcrowell writes "Nature is reporting on e-mails leaked from the Association of American Publishers, which considers itself "under siege" because of NIH and congressional efforts to get all NIH-funded scientific papers posted for free on PubMed Central. The AAP has hired a PR firm, which is advising them to spread the message that "Public access equals government censorship," and that traditional for-profit print publishing is the same thing as peer peer review." top
bcrowell writes "Sun has launched a new web site called Curriki, which is going to use a XWiki to create textbooks and other educational materials. The site is up, but according to the FAQ, some important functions won't be available until January. The license is CC-BY, which differentiates it from wikipedia and wikibooks, but also makes it incompatible with them. It looks like they plan to have much tighter controls and standards than wikipedia and wikibooks. The Terms of Service say you can't contribute if your're under 18."