The Utah Office of Education (USOE) announced a new program late last month. Starting in the next couple months, Utah is going to develop and release open source digital textbooks for science, and mathematics, and English.

Utah is by no means the first state to push for open source digital textbooks; several states including California and Washington have launched similar programs. This program, while it may have been encouraged by other states, grew out of 2 year digital textbook pilot programs. The pilots were led by David Wiley of BYU’s McKay School of Education, and they were funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The textbooks for the pilots were drawn from the CK12 Foundation.

“Utah’s open textbooks are a great use of technology,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Larry K. Shumway. “Texts get into classrooms quickly and can be updated as needed rather than on a publishing schedule – something that’s particularly important in science. The open textbook also adds to Utah’s reputation as the most cost-efficient school system in the country. This is a fantastic way to get the latest textbooks into the hands of Utah’s nearly 600,000 public school students.”

Utah is planning to have texts available for all grade levels, and the books will be made available in time for the fall semester.

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image by El Frito