On Tuesday, May 3rd I recorded a 15 minute segment for the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education on Think TV, the local public television station in Dayton, Ohio. My topic was the rise of digital textbooks and options available for students and faculty to access and produce textbooks and learning materials. Below is a snapshot of my general comments with links to various sources for more information.
Our current textbook system is broken. We have arrived at $200 textbooks and have students who cannot afford them. As a result, students try to borrow a textbook from the library or a friend (sometimes the older edition), purchase a used one, or go without. Neither of these options provides revenue to the publisher, thus resulting in higher price points in an effort to recover the costs or production. What can we do about this catch 22? Continue reading
The Ohio Digital Bookshelf, Where will the 2nd Year Take Us? A Webinar from the University System of Ohio TeachU, Presented by Stephen R. Acker, Research Director, The Ohio Digital Bookshelf
The slides for the webinar are available on slideshare and the webinar archive.
The following is a summary of my interpretation of the webinar. My best efforts were made to ensure accuracy.
Affordability, engagement and preparedness are the 3 big factors that influence student success in college. For many of higher education faculty, admistrators, and policy creators years ago, these were mutually reinforcing- “poverty” as a teaching associate led to more campus-based activity and greater preparedness through grading, lecturing, and the like. Now, higher costs for education and lack of related income-generating opportunities for students, drives students off campus and takes time they would better be spending on study. We need to concentrate on affordability if we’re to bring campus engagement and preparedness back into reasons for successrather than reasons for failure for today’s student, who lives in a much different world. Continue reading
The New York Times reported that Inkling, an interactive textbook development company who make textbooks for the iPad, has received funding from two large textbook publishers, Pearson and McGraw Hill. From the article:
“The amount invested by Pearson and McGraw-Hill, among the biggest textbook publishers, was not disclosed. Inkling’s total investment to date, including money invested previously by several venture capital firms, is just under $10 million, according to a source who requested anonymity because of the confidential nature of the deals. Continue reading
Jeff Shelstad, Founder and CEO of FlatWorld Knowledge spoke first.
Jeff provided some stats on higher education:
- 19.1 million students in 2010 in college
- $850 avg spent on textbook
- so, it’s about a 10billion industry
- Cengage, Pearson, McGraw-Hill are the big 3 publishers along with many other small ones
Problem is that the industry has outworn their value proposition and is not willing to pay for the product the industry is offering. Affordability is a huge problem.
36% of community college student in a study said that the cost of textbooks had caused them to leave/dropout Continue reading
Received this email from Ingram today: Ingram’s VitalSource launches Bookshelf® application for iPad™, iPhone®, and iPod Touch®—now offers three ways to access content
LA VERGNE, TN – Vital Source Technologies, Inc., the leading e-textbook solution provider for publishers, academic institutions and students today announced the availability of the VitalSource Bookshelf application for Apple’s iPad™, iPhone®, and iPod Touch®.
Just saw an article about Kno, a new company launching a digital textbook platform and reader. The device offers a two panel tablet for viewing textbook material in true form by maintaining page structure, charts, graphs, and other non-text elements. The device allows note taking and highlighting and offers Wi-Fi and 3-G access. Kno has already contracted with 4 academic textbook publishers including Wiley, McGraw Hill, Pearson, and Cengage Learning. For more info, see this article from gigaom or the press release on business wire. Twitter @GoodtoKNO
Last years law suit against 4 Universities piloting the Kindle reader as a eTextbook solution has done a lot to guarantee the accessibility of textbooks to all students.
Ingram Content Group, working with the American Foundation for the Blind consulting group (AFB Consulting), announced a new disability release for their eTextbook platform – VitalSource. The release, which makes the application more usable for disabled students, contains extensive internal feature and function enhancements, as well as support for third-party screen-reader applications. These new features include the new DTD (Document Type Definition) v3.4 and VitalSource’s “MathSpeak” program which adds rich English-language articulation to MathML tags. With this release, VitalSource is the only eTextbook platform on the market to offer full accessibility in downloads, online, and mobile access points for content. Windows, Macintosh®, and online updates are expected in June, and iPhone®, iPod Touch®, and iPad™ releases in August. Continue reading
An abledbody news article last week discusses the new Kindle DX and it’s text-to-speech program that will read a book aloud. According to the abledbody article, the Kindle does not go far enough to provide an accessible player to persons with disabilities. The eBook menus and controls are not audio accessible, limiting access to those with visual disabilities. I’m not certain Kindle had persons with disabilities in mind when they created this new text-to-speech feature since it is not limited to those with disabilities. Kindle will work with Pearson, Cengage Learning, Wiley and 75 other University Presses to provide textbooks on the Kindle this year. Additionally, 3 newspapers have given Amazon the rights to text-to-speech content, NYT, Washington Post, and the Boston Globe. Sounds to me like the much broader market, with a potential to listen to books in the car, while walking, doing housework, or any other multitude of activities is what got Amazon tickled pink about text-to-speech. Just in case you didn’t hear, Kindle will begin a text book pilot program with 6 Universities this fall.