Proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in December 2011 and officially introduced on February 8, 2012, SB 1052 and its companion SB 1053 seek to bring digital textbooks governed by Creative Commons licenses to public post-secondary schools in California. The books, which would be free of cost, would focus solely on 50 lower-division courses, and would be available in 2013.
Along with the textbooks themselves, SB 1052 would also create the California Open Education Resources Council which would be charged with creating a process for publishing, receiving, and vetting requests for proposals (RFPs) from parties interested in producing the materials.
While SB 1052 is focused on content creation, SB 1053 is concerned with content distribution. By creating the California Digital Open Source Library, SB 1053's goal is to determine how best to store the digital materials and disseminate them over the Web to faculty and students alike.
Having passed the State Senate by a margin of 38 to 0 (SB 1052) and 34 to 0 (SB 1053) according to Senate Floor voting records, the bills still have to be signed by California Governor Jerry Brown to become law.
As a way to combat higher education's growing price tag, open source software and Creative Commons materials just make sense. Students can access sophisticated tools and college-level information at no cost, allowing them to save their money for essentials like food and housing.
From the instructors' perspectives, having access to a wealth of professional course materials to edit, use, and share frees up more time for pursuing research and one-on-one interaction with students.
Hopefully, Governor Brown will sign these bills into law, and the idea will quickly spread beyond the first 50 courses as well as beyond California's borders.
Photo © Alberto G.