Next week I will be traveling to San Francisco to attend the 2010 annual meeting of the United Methodist Information Technology Association (UMITA). Representatives from the IT staff of many of our Annual Conferences will be meeting for a week to discuss the latest technology trends, share insights and fellowship with each other. Unlike previous years we are coordinating our meeting with the United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC). My presentation this year will be on migrating our e-mail infrastructure to Google Apps. Last year I presented on the Google Apps system in general. This year I will be discussing where we are in the overall migration along with lessons learned. I’ll have to keep in mind during my presentation that the room isn’t just full of other IT folks.
The conference this year takes place in San Francisco! I am particularly excited about this trip as it is the second time I have been able to visit the west coast. These opportunities don’t come along very often. I doubt I will have much time for touring the city since our schedule is full of action packed meetings and social events. Since the Giants beat my beloved Braves in the NLDS maybe I’ll be able to catch a baseball game? I wouldn’t mind visiting Alcatraz if time permits. Ah well, meetings come first!
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing for California to adopt digital textbooks in favor if printed ones. This is an effort to help reign in an out of control budget deficit. This makes perfect sense. We expect our children to cart around half their body weight using textbooks that are often out of date before they are sent to the printers. Textbooks are traditionally distributed on a six year cycle! Money quote:
“So just think about the last six years, all the things that happened,” Schwarzenegger said Monday. “For instance, the Iraq war, the country’s first African-American president … all of this you wouldn’t have in those textbooks.”
A six year cycle? An entire class of students could pass through high school and not study these recent events! With the technology we have today, this is simply inexcusable. We must do something. Why not use open source textbooks? From the article:
While not all open-source books are free, they usually have more lenient copyright licenses than do print textbooks – or digital books provided by mainstream publishers. Educators can download and distribute them at will without facing additional costs. Typically, the cost of producing the text is offset by foundations or private donations.
The open source license makes perfect sense. This frees up students and teachers to be able to copy and use the information contained within the textbooks, free from the restrictions of traditional copyright. This important change would break the strict control on knowledge, granting the freedom to innovate, adapt and stay current with the latest information.
I was discussing issues of copyright just last week at our annual conference. Ten years ago when I was in college (ok, I’m dating myself here) almost no one had any computer equipment in the classroom. We carried around our textbooks and used ink pens and notebooks to take notes. Now when I visit a college campus everyone has laptops, iPods, iPhones, Blackberries etc… The times have changed. The educational opportunities are endless. I asked the question what education would look like in another ten years? The answer we came up with was that textbooks would be electronic. The lines will have blurred between print and digital such that a student would have one device that does everything. Perhaps I was wrong. It looks like ten years from now is going to happen a lot earlier than I thought.