Monday, February 2, 2009

The Xerox Opportunity when textbooks are reinvented

NW Missouri State University Replaces Textbooks with E-books - Epaper Central:
"The pilot program, which used only the Sony e-reader preloaded with all the textbooks, was tested out with about 200 students in total. This spring they plan on expanding this program to include about 4,000 of the 6,500 students. They won’t supply e-readers anymore, but will give the student a package that pre-loads the textbooks onto their laptops.
. . .
This program is expected to save the campus over $400,000 a year, once they completely get rid of all physical textbooks. Most students spend over 1,000$ a year on text books, a price that is rising tuitions and making it more and more difficult for students to pay back their expensive loans after they graduate.
Princeton, Yale, Oxford and UC Berkeley are already targeting the Kindle for the electronic versions of their textbooks.
A while ago I did a post called on my other blog, Print in the Communication Ecology, called Watch Out Textbooks. Back in January 2006, I did a column at What They called Ipods and Textbooks. At the time I said,

With the emerging ubiquitous digital print platforms, textbooks and professional books may be the next to go. Printers and publishers can hide their heads in the sand, or they can keep a watchful eye on this development, and prepare for the change.

Textbooks and professional books - anytime, anyplace, in any format

Print will always be the best medium for "compare and contrast". Compare and contrast is the operational definition of logical thinking. Education will increasingly be about teaching people to think, logically. In any case, it is much cheaper and easier to use a highlighter and a printed page than software and a screen. The opportunity is teacher selected content delivered in the form of a book or other paper to the classroom at an acceptable price.

The use case:
A library of school board approved content in the cloud. Probably organized as a managed wiki. Next week the teacher is discussing the beginning of the Civil War. She goes to a GUI, clicks on the most appropriate chapters for her class AT THAT TIME, and within three days 30 64 page paperback books are delivered to her classroom. The content is limited to the beginning of the Civil War. The book contains a series of assessment quizzes she will give her class.

The quiz is printed out on ePaper (that's erasable Paper) and scanned by our MFP. The results are transferred to the students electronic records and are accessible in real time by the teacher. The day after the quiz, the teacher gets some feedback on how the day's lesson went. She adjusts the next lesson appropriately.

Then repeat as necessary.

As near as I can figure out we have all the tech and relationships to do this. From here on the ground, it looks like the only thing missing is the focus.

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