Education Team/Creating textbooks

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News: Sugar Labs is setting up a Replacing Textbooks project now.

We know we have to create a new generation of electronic replacements for textbooks, but until now, nobody has stepped up. People tell me that this is in part because they don't see how to get past print publishers, teachers' unions, and Ministries of Education to get the new materials into use. But there is a sneaky way to do it. We just give them away for free, and completely bypass the established bureaucratic textbook acquisition process with all of its expenses, delays, and compromises. This will also liberate 47 US states from the domination of the textbook market by California, New York, and Texas.

It turns out that there are serious opportunities for funding of such projects. Mokurai is working with the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation in Columbus, Indiana. BCSC had a plan in place to replace textbooks with netbooks and digital media. They and Mokurai are discussing funding possibilities, including the tens of billions of dollars on offer from the US Department of Education.


Earth Treasury has initiated a project to create interactive digital textbooks with the following potential partners. We have top level agreement in principle from the organizations marked agreed, and are waiting to hear from the others at the official level.


  • Sugar Labs waiting Walter Bender; Sugar. Wants to see our first round of textbooks before committing to anything.
  • OLPC waiting Nicholas Negroponte; XO
  • Open Learning Exchange waiting Richard Rowe; business plan for education support in every developing country
  • OLE Nepal waiting Bryan Berry; needs 10,000 learning modules
  • OneVillage Foundation waiting Joy Tang; Open Digital Village

We have many more potential partners in mind.


We all agree in principle that we want to do it. Now we have to hold some meetings and online discussions to determine who wants to do what, and create a business plan, some White Papers, and a draft Statement of Work.

Our guiding principles (with key sources) include

  • Interactive software integrated into "textbooks" (Omar Khayyam Moore, Ken Iverson, Stephen Wolfram, others)
  • Textbooks integrated into curricula (Well, duh, but they never did in Computer Literacy)
  • Intellectual honesty (Jerome Bruner, Richard Feynman)
  • Age-appropriate learning (Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori)
  • Deep understanding (Marvin Minsky)
  • Powerful ideas (Seymour Papert)
  • Mastery learning (Alan Kay)
  • Augmenting Collective Intelligence, Bootstrapping, Dogfooding (Doug Engelbart)
  • Whatever is needed, not We Have Always Done It This Way (Robert Townsend, Frank Borman)
  • Freedom (Richard Stallman)
  • Continuous Improvement (W. Edwards Deming)

Business Model

Much of the work will be done by volunteer authors scratching an itch, as usual, but we will offer a deal to Ministries of Education and to aid organizations, to write any urgently-needed textbooks on contract. All books containing software to be GPLed. We will also work with educational research institution on testing and improving our work.


  • Survey of curricula worldwide
  • Survey of topics and subject-matter experts
  • Catalog of best practices
  • Bootstrap from the FLOSS Manuals Book Sprint methodology and current best practices to build continuously better and faster methods
  • Organize a research program
  • Choose demonstration projects
  • You tell me--Mokurai 01:11, 16 December 2008 (UTC)


See Also