Are textbooks an endangered species?

stack of booksOr do you wish they were?  Today’s post is all about the changing face of textbooks.

This first article:  “Tablets make digital textbooks cool on campus” from USA Today highlights the new interactive nature of e-textbooks.  Students can highlight, make notes, and share their knowledge with other students in their courses.

The article – hot off the presses from The Bulletin – is a good review of the tablets that are out there, what they offer, and what The Bulletin thought of their performance.  The Bulletin also argues that tablets will gobble up the market for netbooks (it’s already happened to mine.)  Check out the article here: “Tablets, e-readers head off to college; Students have an array of choices when it comes to must-have devices.”  

Inkling’s app for textbooks (which, coincidentally, I have on the iPad), has features like an optimized scroll specifically for the tablet, allowing jumping to particular pages.  It has interactive elements woven right into the etextbook, melding what we in instructional design like to call “learning objects” right into the text.  Students can purchase individual chapters for as little as $3, meaning the cost for a textbook doesn’t have to come all upfront at the beginning of the semester.  It uses HTML 5, which as many folks know, is engaged in a fight with Flash programming for the dominion of interactive content on the web.  Check out the article here:  Inkling:  “The tablet textbook breakthrough”.

Even New York Times is in on the fun!  eTextbooks have been traditionally slow to be adopted, but that may be changing fast, as this quote from the article by Natalia Rachlin suggests:  “But a new study by the nonprofit arm of the Pearson Foundation shows that while 55 percent of students still prefer print over digital textbooks, among the 7 percent of students who own tablets devices like iPads, 73 percent prefer digital textbooks.”  Check out the full article on the New York Times website here:  Digital Textbooks Slow to Catch On.

This article – from way back in June of 2010 – in Wired, focuses on a company that makes a dual-screen tablet for textbooks.  Though this particular tablet has quite a few hurdles to overcome (weight, cost, etc.,) the concept is interesting.  Check it out here:  “Dual-Screen Tablet Maker Hopes to Reinvent the Textbook.”  It’s a very cool look, but I’m not sure it has any staying power.

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