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Textbooks

Why Online Textbooks Still Don’t Work
January 29, 2013 | 10:30 am

Techdirt has a great write-up about a school district that is spending over $2 million to switch back to paper textbooks after investing heavily in an on-line model. The problem? Surprisingly, it's not one of those, 'There isn't enough content available yet!' situations. There is content. But the hardware requirements to run it, in this age of multimedia, are so high that students who can't afford broadband Internet at home can't use them! Techdirt posits this as a form of DRM—they add in the 'bells and whistles' to prevent students from downloading an offline version. But it's more than that—it's not just broadband...

McGraw-Hill: We don’t need no education publishers
November 30, 2012 | 12:21 pm

  By Andy Richardson, CEO of Influential Software It’s a case of another week, another publishing takeover. This week, McGraw-Hill announced that it was offloading its education publishing business, though this time not to another publisher. The private equity arm of investment firm Apollo Global Management will take control of the textbook publisher, which has undershot its revenue targets in seven of the last eight quarters and has been on the market for a year. Apollo’s decision to invest nearly $2.5 billion in the company is a signal that the money men believe there’s still a lot of profit to be made from educational publishing. What’s less clear, however, is...

Where to Look for Textbook Alternatives
November 29, 2012 | 2:46 pm

I've seen a lot of articles lately about the high cost of textbooks. This one was about site licenses and how they penalize smaller schools. This one is about the use of e-readers in developing countries. This one is an infographic that looks at the issue from a variety of angles. It strikes me as a somewhat American obsession, this textbook habit. When I did my teacher training in New Zealand back in 2005, nobody used textbooks there. There were some resource packets produced by the government for certain curriculum areas, but other than that, you were on your own—it was your job,...

The Coming E-Publishing Revolution in Higher Education
November 24, 2012 | 2:30 pm

The Coming ePublishing Revolution in Higher Education by Dr. Frank LowneyBy Dr. Frank Lowney Editor's note: Those of you who read TeleRead regularly are probably well aware of the fact that Dr. Frank Lowney has been a staple in our comments section for quite some time now. Because of those comments, it was quite clear to me, long before I actually knew anything about Dr. Lowney or his work, that he was something of an expert in the academic publishing space. I emailed Dr. Lowney out of blue one day back back in September, asking if he'd be interested in contributing a post to TeleRead about the current state of the textbook market. In his reply, he told me...

Ebook Publisher Inkling Launches Its Own Online Store
November 3, 2012 | 5:45 pm

inkling logo Not wanting to be outdone by South Korea and others, which mandated the use of digital textbooks by 2015, earlier this year the FCC and the Department of Education released the Digital Textbook Playbook to help accelerate digital textbook adoption among American schools. According to a recent report from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), it’s not a matter of if this transition will happen, but when. Since its launch in 2009, Inkling has been on a mission to reinvent publishing for the mobile, digital era by building engaging, interactive learning content from the ground up for the iPad. Initially focused on higher education, this year Inkling has been...

California universities to produce 50 open-source textbooks
September 29, 2012 | 12:30 pm

California Governor Jerry Brown gave his pen a workout this past Thursday,  September 27. In addition to signing legislation prohibiting social network snooping by employers and colleges, he also signed off on a proposal for the state to fund 50 open source digital textbooks. He signed two bills, one to create the textbooks and the other to establish a California Digital Open Source Library to host them, at a meeting with students in Sacramento. (See video below.) Source: Ars Technica     * * * Update: Thanks to commenter Frank Lowney for bringing our attention to the following infographic from Twenty Million Minds; it illustrates the implications...

Report says 57.8% of U.S. students prefer digital textbooks
September 18, 2012 | 12:19 pm

Back in mid-June, we posted a press release that introduced you to BookBoon.com, a London-based online publisher that offers free open-access textbooks for students. We heard from BookBoon again this morning; apparently the company recently asked roughly 10,000 students about their preferences between digital textbooks and printed textbooks. According to BookBoon, 2,164 respondents were students based in the U.S. Even more interesting: BookBoon transformed the survey's results into a few different blog-friendly infographics; the results of the U.S.-based students responses are illustrated in the graphic below. Directly beneath that is a second infographic that displays the results of the UK-based students who responded...

Turning personal electronics into classroom participation devices
July 19, 2012 | 9:15 pm

tophatmonocleIn classrooms, e-books are sort of top-down, one-way communication tools. You buy the book, you read what it says. But what if the same device you use for e-books could also be used to respond to the professor in your classroom? Ki Mae Heussner has an interesting piece at GigaOm on Top Hat Monocle, a company that pitches “clicker” software, compatible with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, to professors to use in their classes, with students paying $20 per semester for a subscription to use the software. Hardware “clicker” devices to let students provide feedback in class have apparently come...

Fan Fiction law textbook collects legal analysis around the issue of fanfic and copyright
June 20, 2012 | 9:43 pm

9780754679035.PPC:SchwabachSome friends called my attention to an interesting-looking book: Fan Fiction and Copyright: Outsider Works and Intellectual Property Protection by Aaron Schwabach—a legal textbook examining the copyright issues surrounding fanfic. At $81 for the paper form or $70 for a Google e-book, it’s obviously meant for the edification of college or law students, not the enjoyment of one such as you or I. That being said, I found an interesting review of it by Stacey M. Lantagne in the peer-reviewed journal Transformative Works and Cultures. Lantagne’s review gives a pretty good idea of what the book is about, and...

Inkling expands beyond iOS with HTML5 web-based e-textbook reading app
May 31, 2012 | 12:07 am

isolated laptopWe previously reported that Inkling was launching a free e-book publishing platform in competition to Apple’s more restricted iBook Author, and that it was partnering with Follett in an e-textbook program. Up to this point, the utility of Inkling has been a bit limited in that access to its textbooks was restricted to its iOS app, meaning students had to have iPads to make use of the content and couldn’t use it in anything else. But now TechCrunch reports that Inkling has just unveiled an HTML 5.0 web application that can allow any Inkling e-textbook to be viewed on...

Espresso Book Machine not without its drawbacks, University of Utah librarian reports
May 14, 2012 | 12:15 pm

Speaking of the Espresso, a digital publisher’s paen to self-publishing through it led me to a blog post from last year in which librarian Rick Anderson of the University of Utah’s Marriott Library discussed the Espresso’s pros and cons in a bit greater depth than I’ve seen other posts go into. The problems Anderson found mainly have to do with a few technical glitches in the device itself, particularly due to the desert climate of his library being drier than the Espresso was originally designed for. Also, the device has a 45-minute-to-1-hour warmup time due to the glue...

Judge decides mostly in favor of Georgia State University in e-reserves case
May 13, 2012 | 7:13 pm

A decision has come down in the Georgia State University e-reserves case, which we’ve covered here, here, and here. The case concerned electronic compilations of course material that professors bundle together from books in situations where they would not be using enough material from a particular book to make it worthwhile for students to buy it. A number of publishers objected to the practice, and filed suit against Georgia State University. (Presumably if the suit was successful, they could then have gone after other universities over the same practices.) The judge has spent a great deal of time working...