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Which State Will Be the First?

Note: Doug Levin, SETDA executive director, is guest-posting this blog. 

At the 2010 SETDA Education Forum, Blair Levin (senior fellow at the Aspen Institute and former Executive Director of the National Broadband Plan) challenged those in the audience to name the state that would be the first to shift completely from print to digital textbooks and content. As he wrote in a provocative July 2010 Washington Post editorial,

"Why are we still using ink-on-paper textbooks, when digital technology offers a much better way?"

Less than eight months later, it is clear that more than a dozen states have started to make that transition in earnest, and I strongly suspect we'll have his answer for sure in the proverbial blink of an eye. 

While we've seen exciting changes in states from Maine to California and many places in between, it is hard not to be impressed with the commitment that the Florida State Board of Education and Florida legislators have shown to bring the future faster to the children of their state. Assuming a new law is signed by Governor Rick Scott, every district in Florida will have to have its books all-electronic by the 2015-2016 school year, plus they'll also have to spend at least half their instructional materials budgets on digital content.

And, while some have called the Florida law the boldest in the nation, I am not willing to bet that this race is won yet (especially when you have committed, savvy state education leaders like this hard at work right now in state capitols around the nation).

Where would you place your bet?

Comments (1)

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    Geoff Fletcher


    One thing we have learned as digital content has made in-roads into state policy is that policy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for change. California enabled free, open educational resources for secondary schools in science, but few schools have actually adopted them (the state does not track adoptions at the secondary level, but both the state department of ed and CLRN reported few adoptions). Texas passed a law two years ago to create a commissioner’s list for digital content and OER, but neither have been fully implemented yet.
    School corporations in Indiana, on the other hand, are taking the flexibility provided by their policy change and leveraging that to create one-to-one programs and other significant reform.
    There are numerous reasons why policies are embraced in one state and not another. We need to learn more about those reasons and apply that learning to actually implementing policies.
    Has your state changed policies? Did you embrace the change? Why or why not?


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