Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Future of Textbooks?

The New York Times has an article about a textbook called Principles of Biology which may give us an idea of what textbooks will soon look like. First of all, it’s a digital-only book.
 The pages have some pizazz: they are replete with punchy, interactive electronic features — from dynamic illustrations to short quizzes meant to involve students rather than letting them plod, glassy-eyed, from one section to the next. Audio and video clips are woven into the text.
Not only those, but the illustrations are interactive.
 As students learn about the genetic code, for example, they can match amino acids to corresponding sequences on the double helix to understand how an entire protein emerges from genetic sequences.
Other publishers are experimenting along these same lines. For example, with the textbook “Calculus”:
Students can manipulate 650 interactive figures, including graphs of functions, derivatives, and integrals, as they learn the basics of calculus.
With another interactive tool, readers can binarize an image of Lady Gaga.

It seems to me that these new tools in digital textbooks could do a lot to draw students in to the lessons and, thus, learn more. I think I would have enjoyed these kinds of “books” back when I was in high school or college.


  1. I think interactive textbooks could draw students in, but so far, the interactive books I've seen haven't wowed me.

  2. Interactive textbooks the way described seem wonderful, really.

    I'm used to read with a pencil. What I don't like about my reader is that I can't underline and put stars in and write notes with my pencil. I know I can do some of that electronically, but it's not convenient at all. Also, I can't flip back to quickly find something on a previous page. Going back electronically is inconvenient and slow.

    With that in mind, I'm wondering how this would work with interactive text books, but maybe they've figured that out.

    Craciun Fericit (Merry Christmas) from Moldova (Yes, it's a real country! ;)

  3. Oh, man. And I was already excited that the cost should be lower because these tend to be limited run and redone every few years (eBooks should be FAR easier to update). But this interactive stuff is GREAT--I'm excited for my kids! (especially my daughter, who isn't a traditional learner)

  4. Not to mention those digital textbooks are easier to carry around! I think interactive content will entice more interest from students.

  5. With a cool tool like that, maybe I might not have flunked biology ... twice.

  6. The main problem with textbooks is that they are incredibly expensive, at least I used to think so when I was a student. They can probably make this kind of advanced electronic textbooks for undergrad students. The market is huge, worldwide (we only used English text books, since our language is too small to make a market) >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  7. I certainly hope the price of textbooks would go down and the updates be easier. Long ago when ebooks began to appear, I thought textbooks would be one of the first areas they appeared.

    Cold As Heaven, perhaps eventually there will be an app that will translate the English into other languages.

  8. Since students today are used to multimedia in a way some of us can't even imagine, I think it's fitting.

  9. I would have liked to toss out all the contents of my satchel which included numerous text books, note books, a couple of folders, a bottle of ink, fountain pen, pencils, ballpoint pens, colored pencils for art and a ruler or two.

  10. It's a good time to be a student! I would've loved some interactive and digital version of my textbooks while in school. No more refraining from doodling and taking notes in the margins for fear of not being able to return the book!

  11. This was discussed at a recent e-book workshop I attended. Many textbooks are being created and the students relate to them more so than print books which often contain dated information by the time they go through the publishing process, whereas e-books can be updated much easier. This is one of the best things about e-books I think.

    Happy Christmas!


  12. I think these would be a great idea! And an ereader is a lot lighter than all those textbooks needing to be toted around!

  13. Your comments bring back memories of my daughter lugging a backpack on her back that weighed almost as much as she did. Plus, you're right about the ease of keeping books up to date and relevant!

  14. Tools for English is a website where you can find a variety of tools that can help you prepare English language exercises within minutes. And its all FREE! COPY/PASTE or write the text you want to use in to our generators.
    Tools For English Language

  15. Yeah, I think I would have enjoyed studying certain topics at school way more had these sorts of books been around. I love the idea of them - it sounds like having an interactive museum in your schoobag. So cool. :)

  16. Hi Helen .. sounds very interesting I must say .. I think I need to go back to school to be a part of this phenomenon ... so I can understand the technology.

    Hope you and yours have had a happy Christmas and are having a great build up towards 2012 .. cheers Hilary


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