In my home state, it seems like nearly every school is in some phase of moving to a one-to-one learning environment where every student has some type of computing device. While this is certainly a giant leap forward for education, the leap has left many teachers feeling uneasy. The wealth of information online clearly makes the textbook obsolete, but how can teachers harness Internet resources in a manageable way?
A new website call ck-12 has developed a nice transition step for teachers. In 2008 ck-12 introduced "flexbooks". Open source textbooks that teachers can mix and match. Basically, these are digital textbooks that are divided into modules. Teachers can mix the order of chapters and content from different books. Flexbooks are a educational content buffet and teachers can create a plate that fits their needs.
I want to be clear. I only advocate the use of flexbooks as a step for teachers to transition to more authentic content. Free and fair use licenses teachers a great deal of freedom to use nearly any resource on the web. We should be discovering content, editing it for our needs, and collecting it as a chunk of content. Our curriculum end up being a collection of chunks that are easy to edit, update, or change compared to the static textbook.
Textbooks are a multi-billion dollar industry. They won't go quietly into the night. They will continue to sell us things we don't need and are free online. This is an undertaking that is necessary for education as an institution and teaching as a profession.