Skip to main content

EBooks and the future of textbooks

I was just presenting on electronic books, specifically open source textbooks, and the question was raised, "Why would anyone write a book that others are not going to pay for?" This is a valid question, but it is important to remember that people write books for many reasons. Open source textbooks are under discussion in my state as part of state legislation: “That course instructors and academic departments are encouraged to participate in the development, adaptation, and review of open-access textbooks and, in particular, open textbooks for high-demand general education courses” (FL Statute § 1004.085, 2010 4e).

While this legislation doesn't answer the question about these open source e-textbooks it does get the idea going. I told the asker that there are other reasons why someone may write such a text. For example for their promotion and tenure, using the ebook as part of their own publications. Or another option would be to have a whole department write a book, this could help meet the unit goals along with having publications for multiple faculty and then producing a text that is focused to their program. The creation of such open source texts could also be used to build notoriety and name recognition if the ebook is good and becomes used elsewhere - possibly then causing participating faculty to get consulting jobs. Another point was made that just because the book is free doesn't mean that everything has to be free. As Seth Godin points out in Free Prize Inside, providing something for free, can mean selling something else. One model for open e-textbooks, is to provide the electronic textbook version for free, but sell associated materials, such as study guides, test banks, presentation collections, etc.

This will also though mean that colleges and universities will need to become more aware of publishing options and may have to start policing their faculty publications concerning textbooks, as with today's technology, just about anyone can put something together and call it a textbook.


Popular posts from this blog

Ebooks as Textbooks - Part 2 - Highlighting

Highlighting can be a very effective tool in reading and learning no matter the kind of text being read: from novels to textbooks.

Most textbooks or other forms of information text will usually used text features along with graphics to help organize information presented in the text.  These elements are done to help focus attention on important or key concepts and provide additional information. The text organization itself can include structural elements such as heading, subheading, index, glossary, paragraph spacing, bulleted or numbered lists, sidebars or side boxes, italics, underlines or bold for words or even sections. Graphic content can include the use of symbols, colors, illustrations, pictures, diagrams, charts, and graphs.
The act of highlighting is less time consuming and much easier than note-taking (to be discussed in an upcoming posting). To be effective in highlighting it should be a kind of metacognitive approach of sifting or filtering to identify the important content…

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 6 - Taking Note

The process of taking notes, makes reading that much more of an active process and will aid in comprehension and retention. The addition of your own personal notes are usually easier to understand and remember than textbook material. As a student reads the textbook, he or she may not remember all of that they read when they have finished - this is especially true of very dense texts. But, if a student reads the information and also writes down notes about what he or she is reading at the same time, then that extra step reinforces that information and improves retention. So one of the best ways to retain information you are reading it is to take notes while you are actually reading it, for print books these notes were usually written in the margins of the text and so were called margin notes. 

The taking of margin notes is a strategy that focuses your attention on important information from the textbook, novels, or articles that you are reading. Because it involves tagging key words or …

Google Maps

An exciting time today, as I was riding my bike to work, I saw the Google Maps Car driving by. You may be wondering what the Google Maps car has to do with ebooks, but often books have maps and Google Books has lots of books with Google Maps developed from extracting the locations from the text. This kind of mapping got me so excited that myself and Jerome Burg wrote a book on using digital mapping with books. But the car reminded me that these maps are out there just waiting for you to start using them. For example if you go to Google Books, and you are reading Vern's Around the World in 80 Days, look in the About this Book section, and then scroll down to see if the book has a Places mentioned in this book... component.

In one class I copied the map from Google Books and then we put it on the wall, so that as we read the book, we tracked where we were in the story on the wall map. One warning though, for some reason the books with maps in Google Books seems to randomly change fr…