California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has outlined a plan to replace paper textbooks with electronic books as a way to save money.
Schwarzenegger said in an article in the San José Mercury News that replacing paper books with electronic versions would save money and allow students to get more up-to-date information. He has called on developers to build e-books for the classroom.
"California has put out an initial call to content developers, asking that they submit high school maths and science digital texts for our review," he wrote.
"We hope the floodgates are open. We'll ensure the digital texts meet and exceed California's rigorous academic standards, and we'll post the results of our review online as a reference for high school districts to use in time for fall 2009."
Schwarzenegger gave the example of textbooks that still refer to CRT monitors with no mention of more advanced technology like LCD or OLED screens.
The use of electronics to deliver classroom texts is increasing in the US and worldwide. The Missouri School of Journalism already requires students to own an iPhone or an iPod Touch to access class materials.
Schwarzenegger's move offers opportunities for developers to build textbooks that can be personalised for individual school districts, and allow information to be kept up to date.
With Apple announcing an e-book reader for the iPhone, and Amazon's Kindle aiming at the education market, the days of the traditional textbook may be numbered.
"There are those who ardently defend the status quo, claiming that our vision of providing learning materials to students for free would risk a high-quality education," said Schwarzenegger.
"That's nonsense. As the music and newspaper industries will attest, those who adapt quickly to changing consumer and business demands will thrive in our increasingly digital society and worldwide economy.
"Digital textbooks can help us achieve those goals and ensure that California's students continue to thrive in the global marketplace."
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