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Re: [school-discuss] Open Content and open source for developpingcountries

Paolo Pumilia wrote:
>  .>I would start by getting in touch with some people authoritative with 
>  .>respect to the most common matters relevant in schools. 
>  .>Maybe a publishing house could back the project (they would have the
>  .>right to sell the fine printed version of the manuals, with add ons)
>  .I am not at all sure that the plus-value fine grained is enough for 
>  .publishing houses to want to participate.
>  .But, I have never been good at understanding market principles.
>  .
> In my (humble) opinion, an international publishing house would be able 
> to market such handbook in the usual way in the so-called rich countries,
> since a complete, color covered book with clear coloured pictures is much
> more attractive than the print out of a common pc printer, with no binding.
> Moreover, the publishing house could have the right to add something more 
> to the on line version. 
> Yet the content should be basically the same. 
> Advertising that part of the money will support the on line version would 
> be a further incentive to buy the book. 
Paolo, I laud your intent, but as someone who has worked for a major schoolbook 
publisher, I have to say, you're more likely to get the pharmacetical companies 
to give AIDS medicine to the poor than you are to get schoolbook publishing 
houses to share content.

I'm not sure where you're writing from, so forgive me if I'm telling you 
something you already know. In the U.S., school book publishers talk a good game 
about caring for the kids, but when you get right down to it, it's only about 
money. Making life more difficult is the fact that in the US, we have 50 states, 
each of which has its own regulations with respect to what goes into 
schoolbooks. (When Kansas tried to ban teaching evolution in schools, the first 
thought that crossed my mind was literally, "Ka-ching! New Science edition! 
Awright!") While not every state is large enough to to dictate terms to the 
publishing houses, there nonetheless remain formidable compliance issues with 
respect to the acceptability of texts in schools. Teachers frequently are not at 
liberty to use curricular materials that are not on the list of approved texts. 
Given these legal constraints, there is no way that an open curriculum can 
become an official curriculum in the US.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the US is not, contrary to its 
perfervid belief, the only place in the world that matters. In many places, 
teachers and teaching are not so hamstrung by bureaucracy and capital. Rather 
than looking to publishers for solutions, these teachers, given the technology, 
  have the freedom to look to each other. I hope that this is where the next 
revolution in teaching comes from, as it will be rooted in the successes of 
educators, not the whim of politicians.

One of my sincere hopes for the Schoolforge project is to enable just such 
cooperation between teachers. In time, I believe that teachers' communities will 
emerge on line (probably along language lines), and may well be able to provide 
venues for sharing such valuable resources as lesson plans and zero-cost 
ancillary texts, and even core curriculum in nations whose educational systems 
are not treated as profit centers. In the fullness of time, if substantial 
enough teachers' community resources evolve, school book publishers will have to 
answer to large, orderly constituencies of online teachers as much as they will 
have to listen to school administrators and politicians.

Anyway, I think your best efforts would be spent on community building. School 
book publishers are locked into one way of thinking and will not be moved from 
it until they are forced.

--William Abernathy