TOC Report: The future of digital textbooks
February 23, 2010 | 12:58 pm
By Paul Biba
John Warren; Eric Frank – Flatworld; Frank Lyman – Coresmart; Nicholas Smith – Agile Mind; Neeru Khosla – CK12 Founcation
Flatworld: open access textbooks but still able to generate sustainable revenue
CK12: doing same thing but completely in K to 12 market. Providing online services and developed online reader
Coresmart: Many textbooks now available in digital format. 10,000 etextbook titles on their site.
Agile Mind: now can marry instructional concepts and multimedia.
How do digital textbooks solve problem of educating student; online books give more access and lowers price point. Hard for teacher/student to get “real time” knowledge of what’s relevant to student and real world. Hopefully etextbooks will be able to do this. Marriage of content, pedagogy and curriculum. Digital course materials enable delivery of content to every student. Education system broken and etextbooks allow customized content that speaks to who the child is and where the child is at any particular moment. Allows personalization by teacher and the integration of third party content.
What are successful business models and what didn’t work: Two models student choice models and faculty choice models and to be successful must focus on one. In student choice model go for low common denominator such as browser based. Don’t need a print option. Need consistency between digital and paper model. Page numbers, illustrations, etc much match, for example, or will fail in student choice model. In faculty choice model, different success criteria. Works pretty well with current products. Training and support and a print option are key to success in a faculty choice model.
In the K-12 area students don’t need assessment like in higher ed. State adoption is necessary and this is a mess. Hard to develop stuff that distracts kids from the mobile content they are immersed in (studies say up to 10 hours a day).
Students, themselves, want learning that is more efficient, more portable and more affordable. Don’t make it “engaging” make it “efficient” because students have limited time. Flatword found that it is profitable to offer free content and offer paid content around it. Students tend to purchase the “surrounding” material and will pay as much as $30 for it. Faculty will not go for lower price etextbooks if they don’t have the quality of current printed texts.
Devices: will be consumed on all types of devices with consistent fragmentation and no one device will be ubiquitous, which makes it harder for publishers. In K – 12 space the availability of personal technology is not high.