The Tragedy of an Analog Book in the Digital Realm

I was lucky enough to start working on a digital textbook prototype last summer with some grant money. While based in using iBook author from Apple, I have found ways to add in widgets to make the book able to communicate with the teacher and the student. These widgets can give
kids instant feedback on questions I can change from my laptop as necessary, and collect information through formative assessments for my use. They can also point students to different references to provide a more individualized learning experience. These can then be integrated with another system that provides each student with different questions so that they can talk about how to do it, not just what the answer is. ( I’ll have future posts about how you can do these too.)

I was excited to see that Pearson has started to include some of these ideas in their latest digital textbook. But as I continue my work, I have noticed that the publishing world is still treating these resources as they would a traditional textbook, with just a few more bells and whistles. They are still producing what essentially a analog resource with a digital toolbox. Why do we still design these ‘books’ to be read straight through? Why do we even design these to be read? Think about all the amazing interactive programs we can have for students to explore. Think about the videos we can use. Think about how students can use their device to its full capacity.
Think about students able to ask it questions in natural language and be provided with a customized answer. Think about a book that would not only provide information but help students develop good study skills.

I image a resource that allows students to see their topics as concept maps instead of linear chapters and sections.

I imagine a resource that presents material in an engaging and interactive way as opposed to just telling they the answer.

I image a resource that allows students to communicate with their teacher and with their peers on multiple levels, including integrated and individualized formative assessments.

I image a resource that was designed for how students work and for best study practices.

I imagine a resource that can answers natural language questions and provide the relevant resources to students.

I image a resource that will not just capture text or multiple choice question but where students can record explanation of problems and questions so teachers can better see what a student understands and not which answer they chose.

I image a resource that is aware of the class calendar and can adapt accordingly.

Over the next series of posts, I will examine what each of these ideas might look like and what existing technology’s can provide us with insight into making them become reality.

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2 thoughts on “The Tragedy of an Analog Book in the Digital Realm

  1. “where students can record explanation of problems”
    YES! I am working on a system for doing this with my classes, but it would be so nice if it was all integrated like you’re describing.

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