Wednesday, May 30, 2012

California Bill Creating Online Library of Free Textbooks Advances

A package of bills aimed at expanding access to free digital textbooks for California college students advanced in the state Senate today.

The bills, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would create an online library of open-source course materials for use at California's public colleges and universities. Students could purchase a hard copy of the texts for about $20.

Steinberg says his measure is meant to lower the financial burden for students who can now pay $200 or more for a single book. Using an "Open Education Resources" system, he said on the floor today, would provide students with the "highest quality textbook at a fraction of the cost."


Senate Bill 1052 starts the process of developing open-source college course materials for the 50 most widely taken lower division courses. A panel of faculty members from the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges systems would be tasked with selecting the courses and launching a competitive bid process for contracts to produce the open-source course materials..

The bill was approved with bipartisan support, by a vote of 32-2. A companion measure creating the digital library for the materials also cleared the Senate, 33-2.  Both bills now advance to the Assembly.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

_Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Scenarios for the Future of the Book_

Mary Jane Petrowski  / May 29 2012  

ACRL has released a new research report, “Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Scenarios for the Future of the Book,” to help librarians reexamine their assumptions, which may be grounded in the current e-book zeitgeist. Authored by David J. Staley, director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching in the History Department of Ohio State University, the report is a companion to the 2010 report Staley co-authored for ACRL, “Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025.”
This new report presents four scenarios, based in part on feedback from academic library directors. It includes scenarios which intentionally favor the continued existence of the printed book as a viable technology, so that academic and research librarians may expand their thinking about the future to include a richer set of environmental conditions.
The full report is freely available at 

Podcast conversation with Staley and ACRL President Joyce L. Ogburn available at 

As a companion to the report, the presidents of ACRL and ALCTS are holding a joint program, “Future of the Book: Innovation in Traditional Industries,” during the 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. on Monday June 25, in the Anaheim Convention Center Ballroom B. [snip].

Source and Fulltext Available At 

Monday, May 28, 2012

WCET Digital Learning Content Summit: Second Day & Free-Range Learning

What Constitutes Peer Review for Textbooks — And Who Cares?

Robert Talbert / May 17, 2012, 12:15 pm

The University of Minnesota has started a web site to curate “open source” textbooks in a variety of subject areas. Right now, the mathematics selection consists of 15 titles, many of which can be considered open-access classics, including Strang’s Calculus, Bob Beezer’s A First Course in Linear Algebra, Tom Judson’s excellent Abstract Algebra: Theory and Applications, and the Whitman Calculus book. In other words, these aren’t new titles created specifically for this website. [snip].

The claim here is that open-access books ..  tend to have slow adoption rates because of the lack of “peer review” ... , and the UMN website will provide some of that review by way of reviews solicited from UMN faculty at the somewhat astonishing compensation of $500 per review. This raises some interesting and, IMO, important questions about peer review.

First of all, is this the sort of “peer review” we typically associate with academic publishing? It seems different. When we speak of “peer review”, say for a journal article or conference talk, we usually mean something that happens before publication, where knowledgeable experts — for better or for worse — act as gatekeepers for anything that might purport to advance the discipline. That’s pretty clearly not happening here ... . [snip].

What UMN is providing is more of what we might call peer validation, where knowledgeable experts “review” the material post-publication. So, second, is peer validation good enough for people who really care about peer review? If you’re considering adopting a textbook and need some sort of certification that it’s a good piece of work, is an Amazon-style post-publication review going to fit the bill?

Third, just how common is it for people to really use formal peer review in a textbook decision at all? [snip] My decisions are mostly based on what I personally think of the book ... , reputation, and whether the particular book is required by the department. [snip].

Finally, what about the authors, who might be going up for tenure or promotion? Will UMN’s system of “peer review” pass muster with personnel committees? [snip]. In my department, we’re discussing whether peer validation and peer review carry the same weight for tenure and promotion considerations; it’s not an easy call to make, and in many places certainly peer validation doesn’t count as much as actual review.

What do you think? Is UMN’s project doing what it claims to do — namely curating open-access materials in a peer reviewed setting?


Source and Fulltext Available At 


Going Digital < _Nature_

Roberta Kwok / Nature 485 , 405-407(2012) / doi:10.1038/nj7398-405a / Published online 16 May 2012

Creating electronic textbooks requires ingenuity, teamwork and multimedia savvy.

Douglas Emlen is hard at work on an evolution textbook. But this is not just a print book. Creating an iPad app with images, audio and video clips, and interactive graphics and exercises has meant collaborating with designers, programmers and an artist on a digital version of the book.

Emlen, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Montana in Missoula — who is co-writing the book with Carl Zimmer, a science writer based in Guilford, Connecticut — is part of an emerging group of scientists navigating the world of digital textbooks. The idea of electronic instructional materials is not new: texts in e-book form, as well as online supplements, teaching tools and homework systems have been available for years. But as tablets and e-books become more popular, publishers are increasingly placing equal or greater importance on the digital product rather than considering it as an add-on to the printed book. [snip]. The increasing popularity means that authors must consider the digital vision of the book when coming up with an idea and work with diverse teams to weave together text, multimedia and interactive exercises and quizzes.

“The role of an author in the past was, 'Let me write a big manuscript and mail it in to you',” says Kurt Strand, senior vice-president and chief product officer at McGraw-Hill Higher Education in Dubuque, Iowa. Now, the author provides the vision for the complete learning experience, he says.


The first electronic textbooks were little more than replicas of the print versions. But, with the release of the iPad, greater Internet bandwidth in schools and a growing popularity with students, textbooks with more interactive features are emerging. [snip].

The shift from print to digital textbooks is happening very quickly, says Morgan Ryan, project director of E.O. Wilson's Life on Earth, a digital-only biology textbook being developed by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. [snip].


A digital vision


Proposals to publishers should include ideas for multimedia and interactivity. Although publishers generally don't expect authors to provide app prototypes or refined illustrations, they do want specific concepts that can be executed by the publishing team. [snip].

Some authors are planning graphics and interactive elements up front, instead of writing the text first and deciding which multimedia to add later. “The digital product becomes much more of a teaching tool than a way of illustrating in some visual form what the words are saying,” says Eric Schulz, ... .

But authors also need to be aware that multimedia and interactive elements are expensive to produce. The amount of money available will depend, in part, on the size of the potential market: an introductory economics textbook, for example, will probably have a larger budget than a niche upper-level textbook about community ecology. [snip].

Reconceiving the textbook

Cost and time considerations are not the only reasons to use multimedia judiciously. “Students aren't going to learn more just because you throw a whole bunch of videos in there,” says Emlen. Instead, authors should carefully consider which method would be most appropriate for achieving their instructional goal. For example, David Johnston, a marine biologist at Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina, and project leader of Cachalot, a self-published digital textbook about marine megafauna (see 'Self-publishing'), says that it makes sense to use a picture to show the features of a penguin's tongue and an audio clip to demonstrate the noises in echolocation, but to illustrate the rate of sea-ice decline, a two-dimensional graph could suffice. [snip].

Opinions differ on how large a role the text should have compared with graphics, animations and interactive features. “I often see too heavy a reliance on expository text,” says Matt MacInnis, founder and chief executive of Inkling, noting that Inkling's data suggest that learners skim, search and refer to text instead of reading it. “Find ways to be brief and multimodal rather than expository and textual.” For example, the next iteration of WileyPLUS, Wiley's online teaching and learning system, will 'chunk' material into concept modules and avoid long passages of unbroken text. [snip].

The structure of textbooks is also in flux. Digital textbooks are becoming increasingly modular, as many publishers are selling individual chapters and allowing teachers to build customized versions. Some textbook producers are also migrating towards more open-ended navigation in which students can skip to topics rather than follow the linear ordering used in print. [snip].

Once a publisher has accepted the concept, the author needs to guide the publishing team that will execute the idea. Authors have to be at the centre of the creative process, says Roberts ... [snip] ...  must clearly communicate their vision and be prepared to iterate it as elements such as artwork and simulations are developed. [snip].

Aspiring authors should use existing science apps and digital textbooks. [snip]. For example, about 40 authors and reviewers worked on the digital Principles of Biology textbook from Nature Education, a division of Nature Publishing Group, which publishes Nature. And authors should consider teaming up with a multimedia-savvy partner, ... .

In the end, authors should not get distracted from the core task of trying and validating better teaching methods. [snip]”

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Increasing Access and Affordability with Integrated Access to eTextbooks: A Look at the Chattanooga State / CourseSmart Partnership Pilot Project

Source And Full Presentation and Associated Spreadsheet Available At


Presented at the International Conference on Teaching & Leadership Excellence, Austin, Texas, May 28 2012.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

[CA State] Senator Walters Digital Textbook Bill Unanimously Passes State Senate


This morning, the California State Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1154, authored by Senator Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), which would increase a school district’s ability to integrate digital textbooks into the classroom. The measure passed by a vote of 33-0.

“SB 1154 addresses the technology gap between California and the rest of the nation as well as the challenges often experienced by K-12 school districts hoping to implement digital textbooks in the classroom,” stated Walters.

Specifically, the bill requires publishers to offer textbooks in a digital format, and allows schools to purchase unbundled instructional material to meet their specific curriculum needs. SB 1154 allows school districts to create secure, online, digital textbook databases so students can have access to their textbooks online.
Walters continued, “SB 1154 will move California to the cutting edge of education technology, and bring our state up to speed with others that have enacted similar measures such as Florida, Maine, Washington, Utah, and Alabama.”

Senator Walters concluded, “SB 1154 is really about expanding local choice and empowering school districts with the flexibility to implement the digital materials that they need. By passing SB 1154 out of the Senate, our Legislature has moved California one step closer to making digital textbooks a reality for our students."



Saturday, May 26, 2012

The More Tech-Savvy The Principal, The More iPads In The Classroom

Ryan Faas (7:53 am PDT, May 25)

iPad use in schools more likely when administrators like and use mobile tech

With its e-textbook initiative, iTunes U, and a range of educational resources, Apple is pitching the iPad as critical element in 21st century schools. [snip].

So what makes some schools embrace iPads and other new technologies while others resist them? It turns out that the answer may lie in the personal technology preferences of school and district administrators.

Project Tomorrow, an education research and advocacy group, released an extensive report on technology use in U.S. schools earlier this week. [snip].

One of the most significant finding centers on how principals, superintendents, and other school and district administrators use technology in both their personal and professional lives.

As a group, school administrators are significantly more plugged into mobile technology than the average American. Project Tomorrow found that half of school administrators owned an iPad or other tablet device compared to 10% of the general population at the time of the survey. [snip].

The personal adoption of mobile technologies by administrators lead many to push for iPads, iPod touches, laptops and other mobile devices in the classroom. Nearly a third (30%) of all “mobilist” administrators pushed for such devices to be used in their schools. [snip].


Another surprising point is that schools are investing in BYOD programs for faculty, staff, and administrators – and schools with tech-friendly administrators are 21% likely to be exploring or implementing such programs.

The full report is available from Project Tomorrow.

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Alabama Ahead Act [for eTextbooks] Signed By Governor Bentley

25 May 2012 6:12 AM

MONTGOMERY--Wednesday, Governor Robert Bentley signed the Alabama Ahead Act into law. The measure would create a $100 million bond issue that would be used to buy e-textbook computers for students in Alabama's public high schools. The new electronic devices would replace the heavy stack of clunky text books that students now tote around.

The bill’s sponsor Alabama Representative Jim McClendon (R) from Springville told ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’, “There is no question that this is the direction that the whole nation is going. Alabama just decided to be first, not 31st on this issue.” “We are going to move our schools forward. We are going to move our students in to the 21st Century.”

Rep. McClendon said that the first issue would be to define the characteristics of the devices that are most suitable for the program to set a standard for the school systems to follow. Rep. McClendon said that the plan is to offer pilot programs for the fall of 2013 in select school systems throughout the state beginning with 9th graders. Over the course of four years all the high school students in the state will become equipped with this technology.


While the system would save the state money, it potentially would also provide students with much more resources and capabilities than the classic textbook with accompanying workbook format used for almost half a century. Publishers and e-textbook makers likely will provide students with access to a library of supplemental materials as part of any negotiated deal. Teachers also would benefit from the system and would be issued their own device.

Source and Fulltext Available At


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Digital Frontier: eTextbooks

Larissa Krassovsky / April 23 2012

Students may soon be bringing their Nooks, Kindles, iPads and smartphones to class for reasons other than playing games.

With the phase of iPads, Nooks and Kindles, eTextbooks are allowing faculty a new way to assign readings. Because of this, a group of over 100 scientists, instructors, scientific illustrators, interaction designers and faculty reviewers have been working on a digital textbook to bring their original vision to life, according to Vikram Savkar, senior vice president and publishing director of Nature Publishing Group, in an e-mail interview.

“The eBook “Principles of Biology” has not yet been adopted by Sonoma State University,  ... .

“Principles of Biology” was created by Nature Publishing Group as the first in what publishers at Nature intend to be a broad series of interactive textbooks in the life and physical sciences, ... .


He added that instructors will occasionally want to consult their book and even take tests while in class. Therefore, the fortunate thing about “Principles of Biology” is that it is accessible on just about any device, ... .


“These possibilities include continually updating the material in the textbook to reflect the changing state of science, using rich interactive exercises to make complex subjects easily comprehensible, giving instant feedback to students on their performance on self-tests and formal tests,” said Savkar.

“It also allows instructors to easily customize textbooks to match the exact sequence and the way they would like to teach the material,” he added.


“This means that rather than building their entire editorial and authorship process around the goal of creating exclusively text and figures, publishers must put their creativity into delivering rich digital, interactive experiences,” said Savkar. ... .

There are many things to consider about requiring digital textbooks, according to Thomas Buckley, assistant professor of biology. Buckley believes it depends on if the book is of good value and if the content is right for the class.


The “Principles of Biology” does have the option of printing off the materials and carrying the hard copy, ... .

Source and Fulltext Available At 

Guest Post: Marc Sher on the Nonprofit Textbook Movement

by Sean Carroll

The price of university textbooks (not to mention scholarly journals) is like the weather: everyone complains about it, but nobody does anything about it. [snip].

But that might be about to change. We’re very happy to have Marc Sher, a particle theorist at William and Mary, explain an interesting new initiative that hopes to provide a much lower-cost alternative to the mainstream publishers.


The textbook publishers’ price-gouging monopoly may be ending.

For decades, college students have been exploited by publishers of introductory textbooks. The publishers charge about $200 for a textbook, and then every 3-4 years they make some minor cosmetic changes, reorder some of the problems, ... . The purpose, of course, is to destroy the used book market and to continue charging students exorbitant amounts of money.

The Gates and Hewlett Foundations have apparently decided to help provide an alternative to this monopoly. The course I teach is “Physics for Life-Scientists”, which typically uses algebra-based textbooks, often entitled “College Physics.” For much of the late 1990′s, I used a book by Peter Urone. It was an excellent book with many biological applications. Unfortunately, after the second edition, it went out of print. Urone obtained the rights to the textbook from the publisher and has given it to a nonprofit group called OpenStax College, which, working with collaborators across the country has significantly revised the work and has produced a third edition. They have just begun putting this edition online (ePub for mobile and PDF), completely free of charge. [snip].

OpenStax College Physics’ textbook is terrific, and with this free book available online, there will be enormous pressure on faculty to use it rather than a $200 textbook. OpenStax College plans to produce many other introductory textbooks, including sociology and biology textbooks. [snip].


Source and Fulltext Available At 

Open Course Library

The Open Course Library is a collection of expertly developed educational materials – including textbooks, syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments – for 81 high-enrollment college courses. 42 courses have been completed so far, providing faculty with a high-quality, affordable option that will cost students no more than $30 for textbooks. All materials are shared under a Creative Commons (CC BY) license unless otherwise noted.

Our goals:

  • Lower textbook costs for students
  • Provide high quality, open resources for faculty
  • Improve course completion rates

Phase 1 Courses

Our 42 phase 1 courses are now available. All course materials are shared under a Creative Commons (CC BY) license unless otherwise noted. [snip].

Phase 2 Development

Our phase 2 courses are currently being developed. They will be available Spring 2013.

Source and Links Available At 


Bookboon > Online Book Publisher Challenges Establishment

May 17th, 2012

While traditional book publishers are still struggling to find a viable business model for eBooks, is taking a different approach. With their free eBooks, they offer an alternative to the often unfair priced eBooks. [snip].


Free alternative

Bookboon offers an alternative for the often unfair priced eBooks. The eBooks are available for free thanks to the insertion of a small number of employer branding and recruitment advertisements in the eBooks. The ePublisher currently offers business books, academic textbooks for university students and travel guides.

Ever since Bookboon became a global company, it has proven successful in the US: in the past 12 months, experienced half a million downloads. [snip].

About Bookboon

Bookboon is a publishing house of free e-books.

All eBooks are written exclusively for the publisher by specialists and university professors. In 2011, 11 million eBooks were downloaded worldwide. The publisher expects 50 million downloaded eBooks in 2012.

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Bookboon > Free Textbooks

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where Next for Textbooks?

Kate Worlock, Director & Lead Analyst

The digital textbook buzz has increased over the past two years, leaving no doubt that the usage of digital textbook content in the education market will increase substantially – predictably at the expense of their print equivalents. This report looks at changes in the textbook market over the last two years and forecasts market developments over the coming five years. The report also provides case studies of some of the key market offerings, discusses how both K-12 and higher education markets for textbooks and content are developing, and examines the potential opportunities and pitfalls for existing players and new market entrants. This report contains:

  • Analysis of the textbook market, including graphs, according to format, market subsegment, and geography (Americas, EMEA, Asia Pacific);
  • Graphical representations of the impact of digital textbooks on both the K-12 and higher education supply chains;
  • Case studies of some key players: AcademicPub, Apple, Cengage Learning: MindTap, CourseSmart, Flat World Knowledge, Kno, Inkling, and Nature Education: Principles of Biology;
  • Discussion of market dynamics and key trends, plus market opportunities and threats;
  • Essential actions for publishers.
Price:  US $895.00

Source and Link Available At 

Thailand Signs $32.8m Deal to Begin Largest Educational Tablet Rollout to Date

Jon Russell / 13 May 2012

Thailand looks set to proceed with the widest educational tablet deployment to date, after the country’s government finally signed an initial $32.8 million (1.02 billion THB) contract for a project that aims to deploy close to a million devices across the nation’s schools.

The initiative, which was first announced as an election promise from the Pheu Thai party last summer, will see supplier Shenzhen Scope ship an initial 400,000 devices within the next 90 days, following first delivery of 2,000 test units, FutureGov reports.

An as-yet-unsigned contract is on the table for a further 530,000 devices — taking the rollout to 930,000 units and total spend to $75.7 million — as the government advances its objective of providing every first grade student at a public school with their own tablet.

The Scopad SP0712, which Thailand is buying, has some promising details on paper. It is powered by Google’s latest Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) platform, and features a 7-inch touchscreen, 8GB of storage, 1GB Ram and GPS.

The eductional tablet market is growing and March saw the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation announce plans to introduce a device, in partnership with Marvell. The organisations have begun distributing the $185 XO 3.0 — which is specifically designed for developing markets — in undisclosed numbers but Thailand’s deployment is the largest scale rollout thus far.


Given the background and development of the project, it remains to be seen if there will be further hitches. However, the scale of the initiative is likely to see it keenly watched by other governments and educational organisations.


Aside from OLPC, Intel launched its Studybook educational tablet in April and, in India, the $140 Classpad has been made available to thousands of students in 25 schools in the country.

The largest iPad rollout from an educational organisation in the US saw San Diego Unified School District distribute 25,000 Apple’s tablets for students in the area.

Source and Fulltext Available At


Educators Weigh E-Textbook Cost Comparisons

Jason Tomassini / Published Online: May 8, 2012

During the first-ever Digital Learning Day, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission chief Julius Genachowski unveiled an ambitious plan earlier this year to get schools to switch from print to digital textbooks by 2017.

Dubbed the Digital Textbook Playbook, it's a recommendation for how schools could transform instruction, improve achievement—and save money.

The idea of "getting more" out of textbooks by going digital—with content that's interactive, connected to other classroom technology tools, and distributed through platforms students are familiar with—appeals to many educators.

But some experts, district leaders, and publishers themselves question whether that content is readily available on the market and at a price that can actually save schools money, especially given the cost of the technology required to distribute it.

And even if districts can find the money to make such a switch, will there be enough academic gains to make the investment worthwhile?

Recent policy decisions and multimillion-dollar purchases by districts suggest many aren't waiting for definitive answers.

Different Models

McAllen Independent School District, McAllen, Texas
Enrollment: 27,000 students (67 percent eligible for free or reduced-price meals, 92 percent Hispanic)
Textbook Initiative Started: Fall 2011
Expenditures: $20 million total over five years (three years remaining). $6.5 million on infrastructure, including broadband and equipment; $12.1 million for devices, cases, and apps; $1.2 million for professional development
Funding Sources: E-rate, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, private donations, technology budget, special education budget, Title I funding
Devices Purchased: 27,000 iPad 2s
Digital Textbooks: 80 percent PDF, 15 percent interactive, 5 percent teacher-generated content
Notes: Encouraged local businesses to offer Wi-Fi so students could use devices outside class; students allowed to download music on devices; partnering with Abilene Christian University for research.

Pinellas County Schools, Fla.
Enrollment: 104,000 students
Students With Internet Access: 50 percent
Textbook Initiative Started: March 2010
Devices Purchased: 2,350 Kindles with Wi-Fi ($177 each, four-year shelf life); 1,000 Kindle Fires ($199 each), 3,100 Kindle readers, 7,500 iPads
E-textbook Publishers: CK-12 (free), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, Cengage Learning
Funding Sources: Voter referendum, advance on school technology funds
Notes: First districtwide client for Amazon Kindle device; sent books to third-party company to “Kindle-ize” books with note-taking capabilities; Amazon delivered customized reading lists through a cloud service to each student.

Vail School District, Ariz.
Enrollment: 11,000 students
Textbook Initiative Started: May 2008
Devices Purchased: 1,300 MacBooks ($800 each); 102 iPads ($500 each); 120 iPod Touches ($200 each); 400 Hewlett-Packard netbooks ($400 each)
Classroom Hardware Purchased: 100 interactive whiteboards, document camera in each class
Expenditures: $500,000 on property and liability insurance, $40,000 per year on Internet services
Course Material Expenditures: $10 per student, down from $60 per student
Notes: District stopped purchasing new textbooks, both print and digital; all course material is free and/or generated by teachers; largest school district in Arizona with all schools rated as “excelling.”

Riverside Unified School District, Calif.
Enrollment: 44,000 students (67 percent eligible for free or reduced-price meals)
Textbook Initiative Started: May 2009
Devices Purchased: 4,500 Hewlett-Packard netbooks ($300 each); 4,500 Android devices, including Lenovo slates and Kindle Fires ($200 each); 3,000 iPod Touches ($200 each); 500 iPads ($500 each)
Digital Content: 60 percent e-textbooks, 40 percent open content
Notes: Students without devices follow Bring Your Own Technology approach; district had to cut $200 million from its budget in recent years; students use Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Fuse Algebra app ($40 each) and CK-12 Flexbooks (free).


Florida has already passed legislation requiring districts to spend half of their instructional-materials budgets on digital content by 2015-16. Alabama is considering a bill that would use $100 million in bonds to give digital textbooks and tablets to students.


The textbook and technology industries have responded. Apple Inc. has sold 1.5 million iPads to education institutions. In January, the "big three" publishers—Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt—announced a much-publicized deal with Apple to provide a line of electronic textbooks exclusively for the iPad.


The 135,000-student San Diego district is spending $15 million to supply its students with 25,700 iPads, financed as part of a $2 billion voter-approved bond measure.

In Texas, the McAllen district is buying about 27,000 iPads, roughly one for each student and teacher, in an initiative that will cost the district $20 million rolled out over five years. [snip].

Estimating Savings

Proponents of digital textbooks say they save school districts money, even when factoring in the costs of tablets. In figures cited by the Digital Textbook Collaborative from Project RED, a research project that examines the use of technology in education, a 500-student school can save between $35 and $250 per student per year by switching to digital textbooks.


Independent observers have moved to debunk some of the cost-saving estimates for digital textbooks.

Using numbers from the 11,000-student Palo Alto district, in California, The San Jose Mercury News determined that hardware and content for digital textbooks on the iPad would add up to three times the cost of sticking with print.

And in a widely distributed blog post, Lee Wilson, a technology-industry veteran with experience at companies such as Apple and Pearson, determined that it could cost up to five times more to provide students with an iPad and Apple's digital textbooks.

Even Peter Cohen, the chief executive officer of U.S. curriculum for Pearson, a Digital Textbook Collaborative member, acknowledged that upfront costs for moving to digital content are prohibitive for many districts.


Yet many educators note that most tablets provide more education content—apps, educational gaming, multimedia viewing, and editing—than just textbooks. The iPad textbooks themselves also feature animation, note-taking capabilities, and built-in assessment tools.


The same motivation led to a digital-content initiative in the 104,000-student Pinellas County, Fla., school system.


At the Digital Learning Day unveiling of the digital-textbook plan in February, Mr. Genachowski, the FCC chairman, pointed to South Korea, the world's most connected nation, as a benchmark for digital education.

But a plan there to roll out national digital textbooks in 2015 has been scrapped because, as The Washington Post reported in March, there is concern that students will become too dependent on technology.

Mary Jane Tappen, the deputy chancellor of K-12 public schools for the Florida education department, noted a school that had purchased netbooks in bulk to support online assessment, but the devices weren't actually compatible with the assessments. [snip].


Cheaper Devices Needed

To make digital content more cost-effective to school districts, publishers and educators agree that the price of the devices will have to come down as more enter the market. [snip].


'From Queen to Pawn'

The Vail, Ariz., school district took the idea of cost savings a step further by ceasing to buy not only new print textbooks but textbooks altogether.

In 2008, the district began its Beyond Textbooks initiative. Since then, the 11,000-student district has been flooded with projectors, document cameras, whiteboards, Macbooks, iPads, and iPod touches. It's even close to installing Wi-Fi on all its school buses.

To offset some of the hardware costs, Vail makes use of open educational resources, instructional content made available for free online and in textbooks, provided by such organizations as CK-12 and OER Commons. Vail teachers, and those from partnering districts, create digital and video lessons that are stored and shared on a server.


Open textbooks are, in part, a response to the commercial market not providing the kind of customizable materials that digital-minded educators can find on their own, district leaders say.
The FCC's Mr. Genachowski urged stakeholders to go beyond e-readers filled with PDF files that simply lighten backpack loads to offer students "lessons personalized to their learning style and level, and enable real-time feedback to parents, teachers, or tutors."


According to Outsell's report, "Where Next for Textbooks?," released in March, print textbooks make up 80 percent of the market in the Americas. Digital textbooks and "whole-course solutions" that match Mr. Genachowski's description make up the rest.


With some content available only on certain platforms, and device costs varying widely, many districts must decide to spend large sums on the most comprehensive technology or stay under budget with fewer features.


Source and Fulltext Available At 


Q&A: The Future Textbook Will Merge With All Other Learning Content

May 14, 2012  / Sarah Cargill

While the Obama administration challenges schools to embrace digital textbooks, the University of Phoenix, which has been ahead of the curve for nearly a decade, models ways that institutions can license and provide affordable digital textbooks to its students. The university currently has about 1,800 textbooks licensed by its students from four of the world’s largest publishers, including Pearson, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, and Cengage. David Bickford, the Vice President of Academic Affairs for University of Phoenix, joins us today to discuss the challenges, benefits, and method behind its digital textbook program.

Q:  When did you first make the decision to switch to digital textbooks? What motivated this switch?

We began discussing the transition in 2001, and completed the transition over the next few years. [snip]. Digital content allowed us to level the playing field, ensuring that all members of our academic community would enjoy the same level of access regardless of location or modality of instruction.

Also, we observed the constantly rising costs in relation to course materials for our students and wanted to find ways we could be helpful in that regard. We believed the big breakthrough for our students and our organization was not necessarily the shift from print to digital, but from individual purchase decisions to collectively licensing textbooks on behalf of individual students. [snip].

Q: Did you receive any push back from instructors or students?

As with any change, we encountered some resistance. We listened to our students and faculty and made adjustments based on their feedback. [snip].

Q: Have you faced any other challenges with the shift?

With some textbooks, securing digital rights to all of the content remains a struggle. While the ownership of the text itself is usually clear, sometimes the images contained within any given book are owned by myriad parties, making it difficult to obtain 100 percent clearance.[snip].

Q: What steps did you take to make the shift?

We phased in the digital textbooks gradually over several years and hired a dedicated resource to supervise the rollout. [snip].

Q: What sort of infrastructure was needed for students and instructors to make the switch to digital textbooks (technology, tech support, policies, expectations, etc.)?

Since we currently host digital textbooks on our own infrastructure, we had to upgrade our existing data center and add additional facilities to ensure backup coverage. [snip].

Q: What have you seen as the major benefits of digital textbooks?

The main benefit is that our students and faculty have the materials they need in a highly available format and at a good price. [snip].

Q: How do you think digital textbooks are changing the way we research, write, and more?

The digital textbook of tomorrow will not be so much adjunct to the course, but will instead merge with the course so that it will be hard to tell when one is reading the textbook, learning from ancillary content, completing assignments, or engaging in discussions with the instructor and classmate.

Q: Is University of Phoenix looking into OER as an option to drive down the cost of texts for students even further?

We continue to experiment with new models of content distribution and delivery, including open educational resources.

Q: How can other schools and universities create partnerships to license digital textbooks from publishers?

Colleges and universities would do well to find ways to aggregate buying power while still respecting academic freedom. [snip].

Q: How do you see the role of publishers evolving in the education market with digital textbooks?

Publishers need to realize that sometimes what educators seek is not their titles, but their content. This means there will have to be more openness to disaggregated content with costs broken down into smaller units. [snip].

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Wiley Partners With Artificial Intelligence Firm for Adaptive Learnings on P- and E-Textbooks

May 15, 2012
Wiley Partners With Quantum to Deliver Intelligent Adaptive Learning and Assessment Solution For Accounting Education

Hoboken, NJ — May 14, 2012 — Global publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. .... , which provides content and content-enabled services for students and educators, researchers, and professional practitioners, has partnered with Quantum Simulations, Inc., a leading developer of artificial intelligence-based education products and services, to offer intelligent adaptive learning and assessment software with Wiley’s print and digital accounting textbooks, starting with Introductory Accounting through Intermediate Accounting.

Accounting courses are taken by over 1 million students per year by business and non-business majors as well as MBA graduate students.


Each year, hundreds of thousands of accounting students benefit from the unparalleled quality content and student-friendly approach of Wiley’s best-selling accounting titles such as Kimmel’s Financial Accounting, Weygandt’s Accounting Principles, and Kieso’s Intermediate Accounting. Combining the solid content of Wiley books, written by respected authors Don Kieso, Jerry Weygandt, Paul Kimmel, and Terry Warfield, with WileyPLUS and Quantum will help students do even better in their accounting courses while preparing them for the rapidly changing business world. WileyPLUS is a research-based, online environment for effective teaching and learning. The WileyPLUS homework experience for accounting imitates a blank sheet of paper experience, so that students arebetter prepared for in-class exams and the real world. With the addition of Quantum, students now have access to a practice and tutorial system that uses adaptive technology to intuitively respond to their individual work.

[snip]. Quantum helps more students master the course material with less study time by combining advanced artificial intelligence technology, proven pedagogical techniques and content expertise from a wide range of subject matter experts to create individualized learning paths for every student.


Source and Fulltext Available At 


Coming in the Back Door: Leveraging Open Textbooks To Promote Scholarly Communications on Campus

Bell, SJ. (2012). Coming in the Back Door: Leveraging Open Textbooks To Promote Scholarly Communications on Campus. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 1(1):eP1040. Available at:

Steven J. Bell Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services, Temple University

In 2007 I was assigned the responsibility for creating a scholarly communications initiative at Temple. Though lacking deep knowledge of the issues, I committed to a serious effort to raise awareness, build collective support,and contribute change to scholarly publishing practices at my institution. As a first step, I attended the ARL/ACRL Institute on Scholarly Communication, where I improved my understanding of the different componentsof a scholarly communications initiative, and learnedstrategies for engaging faculty on a variety of levels.


Despite these efforts to connect with faculty on scholarly communications issues, after two years it was clear in my meetings with department chairs that we had made little progress.[snip].

Then something important happened. In 2009 at the American Library Association Midwinter conference I attended the SPARC Forum. The forum featured three speakers on a topic new to me, open access textbooks. [snip]


The dilemma, as I interpreted it, was similar to that of the scholarly publishing crisis. Faculty author the textbooks, then turn over the rights to publishers, who in turn sell the content back to the faculty members’ students at premium prices. Unlike scholarly journals, where faculty authors mostly earn prestige and career advancement opportunities, textbook publishing holds the potential of royalties. However, as I learned in the session, the vast majority of textbooks actually earn their authors little over time. [snip].


Following the SPARC Forum, two things occurred to me. First, while the textbook dilemma had no direct impact on the library budget, it seemed that we should be doing more to tackle this growing crisis for our students, a crisis that needed faculty intervention. Second, the textbook crisis held the potential to serve as the issue to create the awareness needed to get more faculty and graduate students focused on the scholarly communications crisis. I thought of it as a back door approach. If journal pricing, author rights, and open access ignited no spark of concern in our academic community, perhaps the growing attention on the textbook crisis could be the necessary catalyst to create the awareness we had thus far failed to generate.


As I explored current practices, it became obvious that the vast majority of academic libraries, like my own, were doing nothing about the textbook crisis. The majority simply acquired no textbooks. An extremely small number of academic libraries allocated funds to buy a single copy of every textbook. [snip]. Why are we not, I asked, applying the same passion for scholarly communications and open access to the world of textbooks?

Then I began conversations on my own campus. As the library’s representative to Temple’s Teaching, Learning and Technology Roundtable, I brought the textbook issue to the table and sought faculty reaction to a proposal to create more awareness about the textbook crisis. [snip]. I discovered that one of our more tech-savvy faculty members had stopped using a traditional textbook just that previous semester. He had spent nearly a year compiling learning materials from a wide range of sources—everything from the library’s databases, to chapters from open textbooks, to his own writings and open multimedia resources. This provided the perfect model for what came to be known as the alternate textbook.

Around this time I also learned about the Curricular Resource Strategy (CRS), a term coined by Mark Milliron, a leading expert and consultant in higher education. Milliron’s premise is that print textbooks are an outmoded model for delivering learning content. He confirmed my belief that the time was ripe for faculty to structure their own instructional content from all the learning objects available to them. To test my ideas, I wrote two columns about CRS and a longer essay about the textbook crisis for Inside Higher Education, all of which received an enthusiastic response. I then developed a more formal proposal for an “Alternate Textbook Project” that would be led and funded by the library to support faculty experimentation with alternatives to traditional textbooks. [snip]

The Alternate Textbook Project sought four primary outcomes:
  • Save students money by eliminating expensive textbooks
  • Improve student learning with tailored curricular resources
  • Support faculty experimentation with open educational resources
  • Seed the roots of an institutional culture that supports open sharing of scholarship
The first call for proposals, after vetting from TLTR colleagues, was issued in February 2010. The premise was simple: faculty members would receive a $1,000 grant to eliminate their existing traditional textbook and replace it with a nontraditional alternate textbook. [snip]

This limited number of accepted proposals met our available funding and the awardees came from multiple disciplines. As anticipated, those who wrote proposals identified a variety of creative approaches to developing an alternate textbook. In addition to funding, the library also provided support and expertise to help the faculty identify appropriate learning content.

Faculty implemented their alternate textbooks in the fall 2011 semester. Over the summer the library sponsored a meeting where the faculty could meet each other, share their project ideas and progress, and obtain assistance, if needed, with their alternate textbooks. During the fall semester, I maintained correspondence with the first cohort of alternative textbook grant recipients, and sent them occasional links to articles about open educational resources. [snip]


In January 2012, the participating faculty submitted their final evaluations. Among the significant findings:
  • Students responded favorably to the elimination of traditional textbooks in all the courses; [snip].
  • Learning materials used in these projects included government documents, selected book chapters, multimedia learning objects, digital primary research documents from the library’s special collections, and generous links to content in the library’s electronic journal and e-book collections. While the alternate textbooks required more time to develop compared to the ordering of print textbooks, all the faculty believed that the time invested was well worth it both in terms of cost savings to students and improved learning.
  • Multiple faculty indicated that students spent more time with the learning content owing to the ease of access, facilitated by use of the institution’s course management system to organize and deliver the learning content; the general observation was that making the learning content free encouraged its use, ... .
  • Faculty, once freed from a traditional textbook, felt more at ease adding content on-the-fly to their alternate textbooks, keeping them up-to-date throughout the semester.
  • One faculty member reported feeling less guilt about requiring the students to purchase textbooks, but also pointed out that he felt less pressure to rush through the course material in order to cover the bulk of the textbook ... .
  • In nearly every course some students indicated they preferred print, traditional textbooks because they consolidated the learning material into a single source that was easy to use. Some students were less enamored having to find the material needed for each class session within the course site, and there was less satisfaction with having to print materials when desired. However, students indicated that the cost-savings of the alternate textbook outweighed all the advantages of print textbooks.
The Alternate Textbook Project was considered a success, but like any first-time project there were identifiable opportunities for improvement, such as more attention on accessibility and leveraging existing open textbooks. The considerable cost savings to students, estimated in the thousands of dollars, was a tangible positive outcome. According to the faculty participants, there was a noticeable improvement in student learning in most of the courses. [snip]

Our awareness efforts were helped by Nick Santis, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, who contacted me about the Alternate Textbook Project. [snip]. Since we were already planning to meet for the post-evaluation debriefing session, I invited Santis to join us by conference call. The resulting conversation led to a small post in the Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog. [snip]. The impact reached beyond my own campus. [snip]. At least one other academic library, at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, has already implemented a similar textbook project. The Alternate Textbook Project website offers the details to any interested party seeking to replicate the project at their institution.

While the Alternate Textbook Project is unlikely to launch an overnight revolution in either textbook publishing or scholarly communications, it does demonstrate that small projects aimed at creating change can make an impact. [snip]. Whether the academic librarian community gets there through the back, front or even a side door, our commitment to creating open access to the world’s knowledge will make a difference. The first step is to open a door, and as campus leaders, cross the threshold towards our preferred future for scholarly communications.

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Digital Textbook[s] in Korea ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

McGraw-Hill Announces E-Book Program With University of Minnesota

DANIEL E. SLOTNIK / May 16, 2012, 5:59 am

A biology e-textbook viewed with McGraw-Hill’s Connect Learning Management System.

The textbook publisher McGraw-Hill Higher Education announced a pilot program with University of Minnesota bookstores last week that may eventually make early semester lines and sold-out core texts as obsolete as the diskette.

McGraw-Hill will offer its complete catalog of more than 1,600 e-books to University of Minnesota students starting in the 2012 fall semester ... . [snip].

The full texts will cost significantly less than a hard copy and appear in the university’s learning management system, or online interface, as soon as a student registers for a class. Tom Malek, the vice president of learning solutions and services for McGraw-Hill Higher Education, said the company’s standard rate for e-books was 40 percent of the list price, but that they would charge slightly less in this program. The amount is billed to the student as a course fee, and if students drop a course before the end of the add/drop period, they will not be charged.


The e-textbooks are designed to work across multiple platforms because they will eventually be available over a number of different e-text readers. [snip]. Many e-text readers will allow students to download textbooks, so they can be read without Internet access.

The e-textbooks also offer assessment, adaptive learning and social networking applications, depending on the e-text reader used. Courseload allows students to interact with their professors and one another, and to send feedback to the book’s author ... .


Mr. Malek said another purpose of the pilot program was to create a scalable model for the burgeoning e-textbook industry, one he compared to Ticketmaster.


Source and Fulltext Available At 


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Indiana U Signs Pearson into eTexts Program


Indiana University has signed a deal with Pearson as part of the institution's sizable eTexts@IU initiative. Pearson is one of just a few major publishers that have been holdouts on the digital textbook project, which allows faculty to choose those over printed textbooks in order to obtain a reduced price on the curriculum for students. [snip]

The eTexts pilot began in 2009 and spread to all eight Indiana U campuses in 2011. Students and faculty access the materials through Courseload, an online platform that allows students to read, annotate, and communicate with others on computers, tablets, and smartphones. [snip].


Calling the deal "fantastic," Nik Osborne, leader of the Indiana University (IU) eTexts initiative and chief of staff for the Office of the Vice President for IT, said the earliest that Pearson digital materials would show up in classrooms as part of the new agreement would be fall 2012, though a more certain timeline is spring 2013. [snip].

Osborne said the university is also negotiating with Pearson on the use of its supplemental material--digital content, such as MyMathLab, to make that available as part of the OnCourse platform. [snip].

Osborne noted that Pearson is one of the top three textbook publishers providing course materials to faculty and the largest in terms of the number of titles used at Indiana U. The top three publishers, he said, account for about 60 percent of materials in use; the top five publishers supply about 72 percent. [snip].

So adding Pearson to the eTexts portfolio, which also includes McGraw Hill, Macmillan, Flat World Knowledge, Harvard Business Publishing, Indiana University Press, W.W. Norton, and Wiley, is "significant," he said. [snip].


Although the deal with Pearson won't be automatically integrated into the work Indiana U is doing with five other institutions through Internet2's NET+ service pilot, Osborne believes it does signal more such arrangements in the near future. "We think this is a positive step. We can't speak for Pearson, but I would hope that this is a good start for seeing more of these types of models pop out there at other institutions. [snip].

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Monday, May 14, 2012

Interview with MBS Direct Digital’s Rob Reynolds

Posted on May 14, 2012 by Darren Weiss

EdCetera spoke with Rob Reynolds, director of MBS Direct Digital, about his take on the edtech industry. In this Q&A, Rob talks about his circuitous path through education to his current postion, the future of e-books in education, and why the biggest obstacle to improving education is the actual attempt to improve it.

What’s your background in the education industry? How did you get to where you are today?

I started out in a traditional role, as a professor of languages and literature at a small private college. Later I went to work at the University of Oklahoma and eventually migrated from an instructional role to one of instructional technologist and then administrator. While at OU, I began teaching designing and teaching online courses, and also wrote ancillary materials for textbook publishers. I left my life as a teacher/administrator to take a role in publishing and, later, left publishing to co-found an educational technology startup. That company was acquired in 2009, which is how I ended up in my current position as Director of MBS Direct Digital.


Having had experience as a teacher, what do you think the biggest challenge is to improving the way educators teach?

The biggest challenge facing teachers today is the explosion of information and the fact that they can no longer expect to keep up with their own knowledge domains or, more importantly, hope to know what information students really need to be successful. [snip]

What role do you see e-books playing in education in one year? How about 10 years from now?

Digital textbooks will continue to play an increasing role in education throughout the current decade. They will represent more than 10% of total textbook sales by the end of 2013 and more than 25% by 2015. Just as important, digital textbooks represent a much broader trend in education towards digital content in general. [snip].

As move out into the future, we will think less in terms of static, linear collections of content ..., and more in terms of discreet units of information that can be easily repurposed and used in a variety of product models. [snip]

What’s the benefit to open source educational content? Are there any open source initiatives that you think are on the right track?

The rapid transition to digital content in general is facilitating significant growth in the open educational content channel. Over the past year, we have seen increased funding for open source and open content work in education. [snip].


What do you think is the biggest obstacle to improving education/learning?

Ironically, the biggest obstacle to improving education/learning is the actual attempt to improve education/learning. I’m not sure we can start with our current assumptions about education and learning ... , and make a suitable journey to a learning destination that is truly improved and evolved. This belief has led me to focus on improving pieces of the learning ecosystem — content management, content rendering, and content authoring.

When you hear the phrase “future of education,” what comes to mind?

For me, the future of education means a shift from container-based and centripetal learning to containerless learning that is driven by centrifugal forces. We will move increasingly away from artificial constructs that emphasize unnatural learning networks to practical, real-life models that leverage our natural learning processes and networks.

Source and Fulltext Available At


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Future U: The Stubborn Persistence of Textbooks

Future U is a multipart series on the university of the 21st century. We will be investigating the possible future of the textbook, the technological development of libraries, how tech may change the role of the professor, and the future role of technology in museums, research parks, and university-allied institutions of all kinds.

Textbooks are a thing of the past, says the common wisdom. Well, the common wisdom of the Technorati maybe. [snip].


So writing the obituary for textbooks would be putting the cart before the horse. But pretending like they are not changing their shape, if not their nature, is to proclaim, from one's buggy, that automobiles are a passing fad.

Once upon a time, and a very good time it was

Once upon a time, teachers imparted their knowledge through talking. Socrates famously used dialogue to inspire proprietary conclusions and correct misapprehension in his students. Socrates' student Plato taught in the Akadameia, ... [snip].

Even as texts grew in importance, with the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Hebrews, talking still took precedence. Writing became more important but was restricted to a stick and some sand. With the Romans, it was a stylus on a wax tablet.

However, when printing took off in the 17th century—and was then followed by compulsory education in the nation states of the 18th—the textbook as we knew it was born.

Fast on the heels of that birth, the herd of educational cranks, publishing pimps, and politicians thundered into the room, and they’ve yet to leave. Textbooks became an industry, sometimes connected, often utterly unrelated, to education and to that waste product of education, the student.

The ecstasy of technophilia

A visit to a college classroom showed me the disconnect between the ecstasy of technophilia and what life actually looks like for students.

In Prof. Frances Cogan's freshman and sophomore research methodologies class at the University of Oregon's Clark Honors College, the most prominent tech was the spiral notebook. This was partially due to Cogan's resistance to the distraction of the technology.


"An iPad would be good," said Megan Mandell, "but I can't afford one." And those who do use either e-readers or e-reading programs on tablets to carry the texts for a class often find them to be less than optimal, despite all the advertising to the contrary. [snip].


Navigating a changing environment while avoiding getting stung is part and parcel of how today's students relate to textbooks. Not just students, but instructors as well. [snip].


Another way some students avoid the debilitating cost of required textbooks? Torrents. By general acclamation, you can find any basic lower division textbook via unofficial, and illegal, online download services. (Torrenting is not just for music and movies anymore!) The more specialized texts, they said, probably not, but all the basics, certainly. "Our generation is kind of in flux with the tangible stuff of electronics," said Kaela Thomas.


This generational flux is not thought of by these students as a revolution or a revelation, but as a development.

Cole Lendrum sees the textbooks of the future as being "more and more personalized." The textbooks that will be available to their kids will offer "more personalized formats."

Bring your own technology

Dr. Tim Clark, instructional technology specialist for the Forsyth County school district in Georgia, oversees one of the few primary school districts in the country that runs a BYOT program—bring your own tech.

This program turns students' smuggling various electronic devices into their classrooms inside out. Instead of being policed and suppressed, it is required, or at least encouraged openly. The proliferation of these devices has resulted in Forsyth's primary schools operating more like a university's upper division classes. Instead of required texts from a central source, pedagogical materials are assembled and formed around the needs of the specific classroom and its students.


The future Clark sees growing out of the experiences and expectations of his students is one of contribution, community, and collaboration.

"Student engagement and collaboration have increased in classrooms. The students work more in groups to participate in projects and activities. [snip].

"I think that the students [in the future] will be more accustomed to contributing to the body of knowledge within their classes rather than just being consumers of information."

Far, far away

When we think about anything technologically, we tend to default to our own area and our own experience. So when we think about the future of higher education, we tend to center on North America and Europe. It is far from the whole story.

Founded by former Amazon VP David Risher, Worldreader is a non-profit group that has spent several years testing the idea that e-readers can create a quantifiable improvement in literacy in the developing world. [snip].


What Worldreader's e-readers have proven is that you can deliver one box of e-readers and you've delivered an entire library to each student. Given the deals the organization has struck with both Western and African publishers to provide the texts free of cost to the students, the plan is cost-effective. [snip].

"I see a huge demand in the developing world for textbooks to be delivered electronically," Elizabeth Wood, director of digital publishing for Worldreader, told Ars. "We're working with our partner BinU to deliver the entire CK-12 series of textbooks on our app to meet the enormous need. [snip].

Wood believes the potential for e-textbooks to make a difference in the developing world's higher education landscape is enormous. The organization is currently working to develop partnerships with open source textbook developers, including OpenStax College, "to be able to make relevant materials available electronically to students all over the world."

And away we go

In much the same way that the classroom of the future is evolving away from the unidirectional transmission of knowledge via lecture and toward dialogue and project-based learning, the textbook is responding to the same strains. Like the classroom, the textbook is likely to become more collaborative and customizable.

The notion of the bound text being replaced by the e-book is not one that many people seem to be excited about. The limitations of the e-readers outweigh many of their benefits in the industrialized world, at least for now. In the developing world, however, the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks sooner than in the West.

It's not so much that the textbook is transmogrifying from lines of text on paper to lines of pixels on screens as it is undergoing a change of definition. A more exacting way to put it might be to say that textbooks are being replaced not by e-textbooks, but by curated collections of course-specific materials, ... .

The key overall, however—what makes the future of the textbook exciting—is someone, somehow, seems to have kicked the door off the hinges. We're on the verge of "anything goes." There is likely to be a lot of dross as a result, but the joy of discovery has energized something that is so often apprehended with a dull dread—the "textbook."

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Podcast > Free E-books Is Gluejar’s Mission > Eric Hellman

[snip]. Liberate the e-books. But that unlikely mission is the work of Gluejar. A technologist, entrepreneur, and writer, Eric Hellman is Gluejar’s president, who became interested in technologies surrounding e-journals and libraries after 10 years at Bell Labs in physics research.

“We want to offer rightsholders the opportunity to get a one-time payment in exchange for making their books into Creative Commons-licensed e-books. And the way we’re going to do this is by crowd-funding campaigns,” Hellman explains for CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “So if you have a favorite book, a book that’s important to you, a book that means a lot to you, that you’ve read, and you want everybody else in the world to read it, we’re going to offer you the opportunity to join with thousands of people like you to come up with the money to turn it into a book that’s free to everybody, everywhere.”

Source Available At 


Thanks to Gary Price !

Friday, May 11, 2012

McGraw-Hill Partners With University of Minnesota on E-Book Distribution Program

May 11 2012

McGraw-Hill Education Partners With University of Minnesota To Launch Institution-Wide Program That Scales e-Books

Program leverages strengths of the university bookstore to distribute McGraw-Hill’s proven digital content to thousands of students affordably and efficiently

Partnership creates a new business model to make e-books scalable at the university level

NEW YORK, May 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — As universities and educational publishers grapple with the challenge of driving acceptance and adoption of e-books on college campuses, McGraw-Hill Higher Education has come one step closer to reaching the e-book tipping point through a new partnership with the University of Minnesota Bookstores. The partnership allows the company to provide e-books to large numbers of students at reduced prices, helping to make college more affordable and improve student performance.

Through this two-year partnership, McGraw-Hill Education will provide its complete catalog of e-books and adaptive learning products to University of Minnesota students at a significantly discounted rate. In this new business model, the bookstore [sn will identify the digital materials each instructor requires for their classes and then directly bill students’ bursar accounts for those materials. The end result is that students will see significant savings and will have automatic and immediate digital access to their course content through their college’s learning management system on any browser-enabled device.


The University of Minnesota, which enrolls nearly 65,000 students, participated in an earlier e-book pilot program with McGraw-Hill Education, Internet2 and Courseload that also was designed to make e-books more affordable and accessible. This new partnership strengthens McGraw-Hill Education’s relationship with the university as well as the University of Minnesota Bookstores, which provides significant value in its ability to interface seamlessly with university administration, faculty and students.


According to Malek, scalability also requires moving the conversation beyond the e-book. “Many of our customers have told us they have been waiting for more meaningful digital learning tools to help drive their migration to digital. In many course areas our e-book content can be connected to highly sophisticated adaptive learning and assessment technologies that are known to improve student performance. These new technologies are helping our university partners better understand the value of models that help establish an effective digital learning environment.”

At the University of Minnesota, McGraw-Hill’s e-books can interface with an entire suite of the company’s online learning platforms, including McGraw-Hill Connect® (all-digital teaching and learning platform), McGraw-Hill LearnSmart™ (online super adaptive study tool) and Tegrity® (a fully searchable lecture capture service). LearnSmart, which has been used by nearly 1 million students since its launch, has been shown to improve students’ course performance by one full letter grade.


The new e-book program will begin in the fall 2012 semester.

Source and Fulltext Available At 


WCET Leadership Summit: New Directions for Digital Learning Content

Salt Lake City UT > May 9-10 2012


IU Expands eTexts Initiative with Pearson

May 10, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University and Pearson are working together to reduce the costs of digital textbooks for students on all IU campuses. IU's eTexts initiative enables faculty to optionally choose these digital textbooks and online exercises at reduced prices for students.
Brad Wheeler

[snip]. [Brad Wheeler] IU vice president for information technology and chief information officer [said] "Pearson is a world leader in developing the next generation of online learning experiences, and this deal enables IU faculty to choose Pearson products and save students money."
IU faculty can now choose digital texts from Flat World Knowledge, Harvard Business School Publishing, IU Press, MacMillan, McGraw Hill, Pearson, W.W. Norton, and Wiley -- with other publishers to come.
Students especially like being able to highlight and share study notes with peers and to see annotations by faculty. Students have access to both online and print versions that suit their study needs, and they will have ongoing access to all of their eTexts as long as they are enrolled at IU.
Source and Fulltext Available At