The average high school physics class in Virginia traverses 2,000 years of thinking, encompassing the Archimedes principle of buoyancy and Newton's laws of motion, and stopping abruptly at about the turn of the 20th century. Educators want the course to advance to today's string theorists and atom-smashing particle physicists.
But before they can modernize physics education, they need a breakthrough in a textbook system that often leaves courses in physics and other subjects decades behind the times.
Rather than waiting two years for the Virginia Board of Education to review its science standards, then another year for publishers to print new physics texts, the state secretaries of education and technology asked a dozen teachers to write their own chapters in biophysics, nanotechnology and other emerging fields and post them online.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Online HS Physics Textbook
Publishers have been slow to abandon traditional textbooks in favor of online and digital alternatives. The lock-in to paper is understandable, when you consider that their entire history is based in paper and that their core competency is print books. It's not unlike cable companies offering data and voice services and telecommunications companies video. It's hard to give up what you know for something unknown and some would say unproven. It's not surprising, then, that the paradigm shift in publishing is being driven from the grassroots, by the content providers (authors) and the consumers of content. Here's a great example from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Educators frustrated with out-dated textbooks and eager to include cutting edge topics, such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, string theory etc. are collaborating to create an online physics textbook. Read this story, pass it on to your colleagues. I'm convinced that this is the future, but it will have to come from the grassroots. The article quotes an analyst putting the digital share of the higher education market at between 5 and 10 percent - where will it be in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? Stuck-in-the-Past Va. Physics Texts Getting Online Jolt - washingtonpost.com