When I sign in to this blog, there is always a splash screen put there by WordPress with the titles of other blog posts from the day. How Egypt Cut off the Internet was one I saw today. Usually I’ve either read a news story on the thing already as with Egypt or they just don’t apply much to me and I pass them by.
Today they featured a blog post I couldn’t wait to read. The Future of Textbooks in a Digitized World. That one I had to read. And while I thoroughly agree with some of the comparisons to the music industry and the possible solutions to the problem of illegal downloads proposed by Mr. Proctor, I have to add my own two cents. Because the future of textbooks in digital is boundless and exciting.
One reason is that textbooks are and have been a huge cost for college students (and their parents) and school districts trying to educate younger children. In the past, science and geography books have been outdated many many times before they were even finished with the first print run because of changes in the world around us. We expected and accepted it, hoping the teachers would pass on the news.
With electronic books, the update is as simple as connecting to the internet. And frankly, although I’ve talked to parents who have not wanted to buy yet another gadget for their kids, the advent of smart phones has made that whole argument as out of date as the print text books we’re talking about. It just makes sense to go digital. We will save money for our school districts (and our parents and our college kids) and ensure our children the best in education.
Another thing is that digital textbooks can be affordable for a niche market. I know a man who was teaching a course on steel detailing ( a specialization of drafting.) and who was having to write his own book as he went along. And countless other teachers across the country have wanted to publish their own course books or their own methods for teaching a subject. Thank God, digital makes that possible and affordable.
As for the objection raised in Mr. Proctor’s post that e-books have a drawback in that they are not accessible to the blind (and the lawsuit by Arizona State University.) I find that a bit odd. After all, print books are also slated to a seeing public. And e-book readers can (and some do) have the ability to have the book read aloud, albeit in a somewhat mechanical voice.
Digital texts are an idea whose time has come. Isn’t it cool?