Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thesis > Redefining the Textbook: A User-Centered Approach to the Creation, Management and Delivery of Digital Course Content in Higher Education

Author > Ganci, Aaron Michael

Degree > Master of Fine Arts, Ohio State University, Industrial, Interior Visual Communication Design, 2011.

Abstract  >  Our everyday experiences are quickly moving into digital platforms. Nowhere is this more true than in higher education. As technology advances and students evolve, the industries around education rush to provide new digital tools to augment the course experience. One example of these new tools is the digital textbook. In an attempt to meet the needs of digitally native students, publishers have made a concentrated effort to provide a digital equivalent to the traditional textbook. However, the current offerings lack a consideration for the real needs of student users, and therefore tend to detract, rather than enhance the course experience. This study aims to define a better solution for the digital college textbook.

To do this, attention must is paid to all of the many aspects that contribute to the experience of using a textbook. Primarily, there are three areas that make up this experience: the historical context of the textbook, recent advancements of technology in the space, and the needs of real student users. After these aspects are better understood, insights from all three areas can be combined into a more useful solution for a textbook in the digital environment.

This exploration will take the form of multi-faceted methodological approach. To start, a contextual analysis is conducted to better understand the historical implications of a textbook, the capabilities of cutting-edge digital tools, and the generational preferences of digitally native students. The insights gained from this secondary research will be leveraged later and combined with insights from a set of qualitative methods. Surveys, interviews, participatory methodologies and evaluative sessions are all be utilized to gain a deeper understanding of student user needs when using educational tools. The outcome of this study will be a set of required attributes for the digital textbook of the future. These attributes are a translation of user insights gained throughout the research process.

Additionally, a tested design prototype will be proposed as a solution for the management, delivery, and use of digital college course materials. This study presents a novel approach to the gathering and implementation of user insights into new digital experiences. Insights gained in this study can be applied to other educational tools or any digital tool that aims to translate a physical experience in to a digital format.

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