Digital Textbooks In the Classroom

[ 0 ] September 27, 2010 |

A recent Newsweek article focused on the increase of college textbooks going digital.  This long-time lucratrive market was accurately described as a “…slow-moving pharmaceutical market,” by Matt MacInnis, the CEO of Inkling, a startup working on digital textbooks. “The professor writes a prescription, and the student goes to fill it.” 

Many colleges and universities are starting to give iPads to all incoming freshman.  Perhaps easier to make the medicine go down?  That may be one way to look at it.  Another is a siege on the used textbook market.  As soon as the required reading is in digital format going “used” isn’t an option.  However, in looking at the digital textbooks from Coursemart, the e-books are usually less than half the price of a new textbook… and with features such as search and note-taking tools.

What are the advantages to going digital with textbooks?  Here are a few:

  • Ability to deliver updates, corrections quickly
  • Social interaction within the textbook – study groups, shared links, social networking
  • Inclusion of multimedia – video, graphics that students can rotate

But what about the students? Are manipulable molecules just digital eye candy or real improvements to the learning process? “Technology is never the silver bullet, but it can sometimes be the bullet,” says Diana Rhoten, an education researcher and cofounder of Startl, which invests in innovative education companies. She notes that different students have different learning styles. Some are just fine reading text, while others prefer audiovisual aids, and kinesthetic learners need to interact with something. “In a digital book, I have all of those modalities available to me,” she says. “That is huge. Customization is going to have a great impact on learning.” And if it means getting an A in organic chemistry, paying $500 for an iPad seems like a smart choice.

Related posts:

  1. New York City’s First Digital Learning Meetup – May 18, 2010 – SOLD OUT!
  2. New Report on Digital Media and Learning
  3. A World Without Textbooks?
  4. College Dumps Textbooks for iPads
  5. Boundless launches paid online textbooks with new learning tech

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Category: Higher Education, Mobile

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