digital textbooksEBooks are changing education, starting from the teachers on down.

Two recent stories have showed how developers are using digital textbooks to change the way teachers and students engage.

The first story comes out of Pennsylvania where teachers at Mercersburg Academy have created textbooks they want using iBooks. According to a release, teachers have created a suite 22 e-textbooks on a number of topics such as Latin, robotics, history and math.

“The eBook revolutionized my class,” said Academic Dean Julia Maurer, the driving force behind the eBooks initiative, in a release. “I had been teaching Robotics for four years but developing my own textbook has enabled my students to move through and master the material at their own speed. The resulting new format of class time means I can spend more time with students who need help learning a concept. The e-book allows me to incorporate more support for students, such as explanatory videos my students can access outside of class, whenever they need it.”

It’s not just text that the teachers have been able to incorporate into the textbooks, but videos and audio as well – giving students different ways to learn. It also allows the students to contact teachers with a question or join class discussions.

Each student is required to have an iPad at the secondary school, an initiative that began in 2011. Therefore, teachers and students have developed ways to incorporate digital enhancements in the classroom.

The school’s Latin teacher Tom Thorne states he has seen success. He is able to check the assessment of every student through digital tools.

“My students are reading faster and moving through material more quickly, and this year we received our highest scores ever on the National Latin Exam,” Thorne said.

The free textbook service Bookboon also announced it has reached 55 billion downloads in the U.S. The company had one million downloads in 2011 to 55 million in 2013. There are more than 1,000 free textbooks on the company’s website. According to Digital Book World, it makes money collecting data and selling it to companies. There is also advertising to help offset the costs.

Books on the site include subjects such as working with Excel, marketing, resume secrets, career advice and more.


  1. I’ve just finished teaching a 10 week course involving 55 adult, professional students from 13 different countries. Using iBooks Author, I wrote a series of six eTextbooks for the course. It was a wonderful way to convey the content.
    It’s actually quite a challenge to develop learning materials that are accessed asynchronously. My students learned a lot but I mat have learned more. Perhaps next time I will ask the students to write the textbooks.
    Writing is learning. Writing is thinking.

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