Tuesday, March 8, 2011

E-texts Must Add Value, Not Merely Replicate Textbooks

E-texts have been a topic of discussion for over a decade, but their adoption has been slow by higher education—especially by students. Publishers are finally understanding why adoption has been slower than first expected (e-books that exactly replicate a textbook add no value to the student) and what must happen for e-books to really win out.

Campus Technology writer John K. Waters interviewed heads of several publishing companies who gave their input on the developments of the e-text in higher education. Matt MacInnis, co-founder and CEO of e-book publishing startup Inkling, said, "A book provides a really good user experience. It doesn't crash. It's predictable. You know exactly what you're going to get. Simply putting a textbook on a Kindle or a Nook is actually a worse experience. You're working entirely within the constraints of the book, but you're taking away the convenience and reliability of the book."

Vineet Madan, vice president at McGraw-Hill Higher Education, explained how McGraw-Hill plans to overcome the constraints of books. Madan said, "Our notion is that technology has been under-leveraged to develop more compelling and engaging learning experiences. As we look at evolving our products, it's really about how we deliver more engaging experiences that drive better teaching and learning outcomes.”

On the same topic, Don Kilburn, president and CEO of Pearson Learning Solutions, said, "We're going to see text combined with more robust apps that engage the student and use the medium for both graphic display and interactivity in ways you could never achieve with a static textbook."

Does Kilburn’s description sound familiar? TestOut has been in the business of developing engaging learning experiences for students for 20 years. Using technology to develop courses for IT training, TestOut has built resources for students to listen, read, watch, practice, and evaluate—all in one online interface.

As publishers continue developing more engaging e-learning experiences for higher ed students, TestOut will continue fine-tuning and improving the teaching and learning resources offered in its interactive LabSim courses.

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