Week 10: RSS Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • pcollins 9:10 pm on November 11, 2012
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    And our sincerest appreciation for taking the time to drop in and explore the offerings of the ETEC 522 – Digital Bookstore. We offer a momentous thank you to all of you for contributing your reflections, comments and feedback. The immensity of the discussion was incredible. It is directly through the scope and richness from the […]

    Continue reading An enormous round of applause for your contributions… Posted in: Week 10:
    • tomwhyte1 9:54 am on November 12, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I would like to thank each member of this weeks group in regards to not only presenting an interesting and relevant topic to today’s education, but also facilitating multiple dynamic conversations.


    • pcollins 2:43 pm on November 12, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      It was a pleasure Tom,
      And what a great source of insight! Being able to engage in the multiple discussions this way, and share with people’s thoughts and experiences. I learned just as much from our discourse as I did with the production side of things….

  • Peggy Lawson 2:54 pm on November 4, 2012
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    The Coffee Shoppe offered several discussion topics based on what digital textbook(s) you chose to sample.  Give us your views and findings about your personal experiences sampling digital textbooks. You also had a chance to create your own eTextbooks with CK-12 and iBooks Author.  We’d love to see your creations – please share, both your […]

    Continue reading Week 10: The Coffee Shoppe Posted in: Week 10:
    • jkotler 2:49 am on November 5, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Personally, I think the idea of using digital textbooks with students is great because it can make their learning experience that much more interactive and exciting while still just as informative from the mix of text, videos, activities and assessments; something I had already thought and found in my exploration. As such I was interested to test it out, but when I tried creating a Flexbook I was somewhat disappointed at the limited subjects offered since most of it covered science and math but not much else. In any case, I did still attempt to make one from the concepts available on the site and found the process easy, however it would have been more helpful to have the short descriptions given in the search menu as well as after. I also would have liked to share my Flexbook but honestly didn’t know how as it said I need to receive permission to publish it.

    • Peggy Lawson 7:51 am on November 5, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Jkotler you’re very right that many of the offerings for digital textbooks are for science & math. It’s a growing market and these subject areas seem to be the favourites, not just for CK12 but for a number of other sites as well.

      The CK12 site is confusing at 1st, I agree. To share your test with us, rather than publish it back to the CK12 site you can instead download it in 1 of 3 formats – PDF, mobi, or ePub. PDF will lose any interactivity you’ve added to your book. ePub might be the best – you’ll receive an email when it’s ready for you to pick up. Then you’ll be able to share that file with us, although it could be a huge file.

      Patti will likely be able to provide you with some more practical ways to share this out with students, as she loves to use it in her own classroom.


    • pcollins 9:28 am on November 5, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      CK12 is still a bit heavy on the science and math isn’t it? After you have published your flexbook – you will also be emailed a link that you can hang on to to share with students or post to your class site for people to access. Here are a couple of example of my flexbooks and the link that was created and archived after it was published.

      Biology 12 Textbook

      Biology 12 Workbook

    • Suhayl Patel 9:30 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I recently created a interactive textbook with my class as a culminating activity for a science unit on heat and temperature. For obvious FOIP reasons I am unable to post it on this site. I used the idea of a digital textbook to create an interactive review package for the end of the unit. We matched the curriculum objectives with resources that we attained and inserted into the book. As I teacher, I didn’t have any say on what would be part of the book. The students went into various multimedia sites and picked what they wanted to include (YouTube, blogs, khan academy, etc)

      I think it was a great experience because it was the opportunity for students to almost create their own learning experience collaboratively.

      • Lisa Nevoral 8:55 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply


        That sounds like a great activity. What site did you use to create your interactive textbook? How many classes did you do this for? Had you used this site before so the students knew how to create the digital textbook?


    • C. Ranson 12:14 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Suhayl,
      Thanks for sharing your interactive textbook learning activity. It sounds like it was a very engaging acitivity for a community of learners and a exceptional strategy to direct and create their own learning, making it interesting for them. What grade are these student in?

    • Eva Ziemsen 7:44 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for the intro so far. I am looking forward to making the textbook activity! I have often thought about creating my own textbooks and this may be the time for investigating.
      I will report back once I have tried it.

    • Patrick Pichette 8:17 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Digital textbooks present an interesting twist on the traditional learning methods. I definitely feel that the potential for knowledge construction can increase dramatically through the use of digital textbooks as slideshows, podcasts, and Youtube videos can be embedded in the book to help narrow the learning gap for students. The only true barrier is the hardware. Until schools reach a 1:1 ratio on digital devices to students, this technology isn’t really feasible in education other than for students looking to improve their own learning outcomes as part of the digital devices they own themselves. The other possibility lies in teachers who look to implement the inverted classroom. If that approach takes greater grasp on education then digital textbooks become a real possibility since most students have access to a digital device at home. Needless to say that this would be an area I would be heavily interested in as a content publisher.

      • Peggy Lawson 4:18 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Very good point Patrick about the digital divide. Digital textbooks would go well with a BYOD program, freeing up classroom devices for those without their own laptop or tablet.

    • Jenny Brown 10:14 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I quickly made a Flexbook on food safety adding a couple of chapters and then adding in a chapter that was already made by someone else. It was fairly easy to use but I couldn’t figure out how to create a quiz, even searching through their site I still couldn’t find any information on this. I am still awaiting publication, but honestly it should be rejected as there is hardly anything in my book. It will be interesting to see what the publishing controls are. I don’t see me using this tool in my workplace as I am not a school teacher but the concept is good.

      What I was most impressed by was iBook Author – WOW. At work, we have just started using Adobe InDesign to create pdfs that can be published online and the newer version does have many of the interactive features of iBook Author but the video made iBook Author look so easy to use (as long as you have all the content already) and the fact that it is a free tool is even more appealing, although I do have to admit that I won’t be trying it as I don’t have a Mac. Apple certainly gets it right – make an amazing tool that even surpasses other software that people pay quite a bit of money for and then make your money by having it all connected to the iTunes. It works for education too – teachers and educators can create great books easily that can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store.

      • Peggy Lawson 7:41 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        My 1st Flexbook experience was also a little confusing, too, Jen. I found that you can download without having to publish, but it still took awhile to receive confirmation. And like you I am Mac-less but would love to give iBook Author a try. As you say, you need the premier content first – and it’s that content that is a key reason why paper textbooks are expensive. Those textbook authors, whether paper or digital, deserve to eat, too.

        But it is just amazing what tools are available now.

    • teacherben 1:11 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I worked with a group for another MET class to create a sort of digital textbook (http://wiki.teacherben.net/home-2/edutech) in the form of a wiki. Our take was that, particularly with regard to technology, by the time textbooks come out, they are often already out-of-date. The costs are typically exorbitant and in the Constructivist classroom, where the focus is on contextualized learning situated in rich-tasks, we rarely ever use one textbooks, but rather a combination of resources. Educational technologists are there on the front lines, often introducing software into the classroom that has no accompanying textbooks in any case. So, we figured that a wiki was the best tool for the job, where a community of educators would collaborate on units and share ideas with one another. It seemed like the perfect solution. But then, we looked online to see if anyone else had thought of it and sure enough, there were myriad similar projects out there. All of them, however, seemed to suffer from the same problem. There was no actual collaboration on the units. People would join up, upload a few units and move on. One could safely assume that if these teachers were still teaching these units, they were doing so from another copy someplace else. Any more recent tweaks never made it back to the wiki. So you would see a bunch of units, many of them already a little long in the tooth, all with a single editor and none of which had ever been updated since the initial posting. So, we thought, here is where we can develop a product that will be different! We will leverage the power of social media etc… to ensure that there was a strong sense of community that would keep people coming back. We would target a specific audience (tech integrators) so that there was some common sense of purpose. We would use a ‘Design Cycle’ approach, where a project would form the focus for cross-curricular units. But, sadly, even 5 of us in a single group couldn’t agree on much. We were unable to achieve any true collaboration on a single unit. The result was a hodge-podge of ideas that never really came together. Since the course ended, I still use the wiki to post my own units and anyone who is interested is welcome to share and Google Analytics tells me that once in a while, people do visit and poke around for a while, but I never get comments back. It seems to me that this may be a direction that things take in the future. I couldn’t imagine myself monetizing my work in any way, even when the units are properly tweaked, but I can certainly see using them to earn a little social credit and this may someday get me a job someplace because of a connection I made with someone who I was sharing lessons with (In fact, I am on the hunt now, if anyone knows of any tech teaching jobs coming up in Canada next year, I would be much obliged if you would drop me a line.. 😉

      • kstackhouse 9:28 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Great points. I agree that textbooks can have a tough time staying current by the time they reach the hands of the student. Our district has a wiki style portal where we can upload, edit and view lessons, projects and rubrics from teachers that chose to post there. It is an interesting collection of information. It is also great to think that it is peer reviewed. We only upload the ones that we are excited and proud of. So, while this is not a “text” it is a collection of the materials and lessons that fit with the curriculum and objectives of the course. It is housed in an internal wiki space though, as technically the IPR and work created while under contract belongs to the employer.

        • kstackhouse 9:49 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Replying to myself here because I forgot to talk about the Connexions TED Talk. While at first I thought this sounded too utopian to be true…I then started to think of Wikipedia and other open courseware and software movements. The idea of ripping and remixing text and then being able to burn it is really amazing. I hope this movement or others like it continue to grow.

          • teacherben 5:14 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Some people are more comfortable editing text written by other people and some people struggle with it. Throughout the MET, for example, I have participated in quite a few projects where wikis were used and most of the time people prefer to leave comments and ask you to fix up your text yourself. It may be a teacher thing, or a generational thing but there does seem to be a strong sense of authorship that is tough to crack. Has your experience with wikis in your district suffered from this? Do you see people going in there and modifying existing units or is it mostly functioning like a repository?

            • kstackhouse 5:47 pm on November 8, 2012

              For the most part it has been a repository of lessons. Although this source has only been up and running for a short time. I think that as more people join in and participate there might be more tweaking of the works loaded. I know what you mean about editing the work of others or seeing that your work has been edited. This takes some getting used to. I think as it is practiced more people will become more comfortable with it.

            • Jenny Brown 9:28 am on November 10, 2012

              You both have brought up interesting points about true collaboration. I would agree that for most people, including myself, this is still a somewhat daunting and uncomfortable task. I feel that in group work (both for courses and in the workplace) there is still always a primary author (be it for a section or for the entire document) and many don’t want to offend others by changing their text, even minoring editing, which is often needed. But with the push towards more collaboration within schools, workplaces and even online with Web 2.0 tools, I think this is changing. With collaboration, a better product can be produced but only when there is a very open, supportive and constructive environment – an environment that is in stark contrast to competing with your classmates and colleagues to produce the best product and receive personalized praise.

    • teacherben 6:22 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      iBooks author is a great resource since it resembles software that people are already pretty familiar with (powerpoint) and it enables the user to create textbooks that resemble the world wide web more than they do a traditional textbook. Unfortunately, it uses proprietary formats that are a pain and everyone has to import a file and drag it into iTunes and install it on an iPad in order to be able to read it. I am currently trying to find a way to read it on a desktop and/or convert it to a more user-friendly format. For those who are implementing a BYOD program, iBooks is currently not an option while a format like ePub would be fine. Unfortunately, there is nothing quite as slick as this for making ebooks for other platforms. I’m sure there will be in time.

    • manny 7:30 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I believe iBooks author came out around the same time as iTunesU and there is no doubt that it is a fun way to assemble your own digital books. As Ben mentioned above, the cross compatibility is always an issue when working with and apple based product. For those of us who are ok with using Wikipedia in the classroom, it also has a neat option in which you can create your own book that will show up in your iBooks catalogue. Upon opening wikipedia, you will notice that there are some links on the left hand column. If you click on the print/export link you will see a section that says ‘create book.’ Just follow the instructions for the book creator and you will have a compilation ready within minutes. A really cool feature that has been around for a while but not too many people are aware of.

      • Peggy Lawson 8:06 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks for that neat Wikipedia tip Manny – I did not know that. I see that it only produces essentially noninteractive formats – PDF and OpenDocument – but still a nice option.

    • jhodi 7:50 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I noticed last year when I signed out a math textbook to each of my students as well as gave them a PDF code so that they could download the e-text version of the textbook, students were a little bit heasitant at first to use the PDF version. This was until they realized that this meant that they would not need to carry their textbooks home with them every night anymore. Several students downloaded the PDF version of the textbook onto their iPads or personal devices and used this exclusively in and out of class. I found that students really liked being able to have it with them whenever they needed it so that they could work on their math homework in their down time, whenever and wherever that may happen be.

      I downloaded a PDF from CK-12 onto my iPad dealing with midpoints and segment bisectors. I did like the resource in its compatibility and ability to include multimedia links to the Internet (some of which did not work for me though). It was also nice to see that one specific topic in math was broken down into several small sections for download. This makes it easier to align with my curriculum because I can pick and choose which resources fit my curriculum specifically. I have looked at other e-texts in the past and I have found good and bad resources. E-texts that are very large in file size and take a long time to load reduces the convenience of the resource. I would like to see more open resource e-texts that could be manipulated by the teacher first, then published for a specific course.

      • Lisa Nevoral 9:05 am on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Jhodi,

        That’s great that several of your students downloaded the PDF version of the math textbook. I had the opposite at my school. We didn’t get textbooks for all students, but instead all the math classes had a class set and students had access to the online version at home. Many of my students would come in at lunch or before school to finish their work because they didn’t like using the online math text, but instead the physical one.


    • Eva Ziemsen 9:44 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I signed up to Course Smart and reviewed many film-related books, which is the area I teach. I found that there was a good selection of books, including textbooks I used to read in my undergrad. It was interesting to see the digital versions of these. I think students would like these because they are easier to transport.

      However, it forced me to think about how I would feel about buying a digital book as a student. I do know that I personally like having hard copy books from my film school days on my bookshelf and I estimate that students today would still wish to have a few key reads in hard copy. However, perhaps it depends on the subject and also the price point. I used to buy all my books used at a discount. I did not go to the effort to compare prices of hard copies of these books, but I assume there is some savings by buying digital.

      As for my experience, I found it quite smooth once I had my account set up. I like the highlighting option, and notes as well. Very helpful for annotating. One thing that I was somewhat surprised to see missing from the film books is that there are no videos embedded in the books. Unless I did not look carefully enough, I did not see any with videos. This may be due to the fact that it would be very expensive to secure rights to videos. However, I do know that publishers pay quite a lot of money for alone the rights to the pictures from films. Perhaps, as ebooks progress, including videos is only a matter of time.

      iBook Author will not install on my computer as I am not in charge of my OS (my tech dept is). I will have it updated very soon. I did watch the videos and I am very eager to try to make an ibook. From the look of it, I think this is very empowering and I would endeavor to create a book in this manner (instead of a hard copy).

    • joeltremblay 11:09 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Taxpayer funded e-texts: This model has potential but my opinion is biased because I currently exist within the B.C. system and know how strapped most districts are for cash.

      E-textbooks with targeted ads: I’m not crazy about the data mining taking place, but most of us use Facebook and Google and they do the same sort of advertising. Depending on how invasive this is it might be a viable choice but because of privacy issues having to do with minors/students it could be too risky.

      Foundation or grant-funded e-texts: The fact that this was a scam doesn’t bode well for it’s potential, especially considering the founders pedigree (one of them being a co-founder of Sun Microsys), because if they couldn’t make it work, with their considerable assets, who could?

      I think that the most viable choice, IF we have only these three to choose from then the first one seems like the best option but I still think that we need to hold our various representatives accountable for continued funding of public education.

    • Lisa Nevoral 8:56 am on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As I was going through CK-12, I thought that this would be a good site for students and teachers to use a resource and allow students a site that would allow them to create review material on their own. I could also see the value of being able to use the Flexbook option to create your own material to give to your classes, if current textbooks don’t do this for you. But as stated by many already, unless there is a 1:1 ratio of computers, I don’t know if this is feasible for many classrooms right now, unless they are online courses.

      In saying that, I am only thinking at the K-12 level. At post-secondary institutes, I think online textbooks would be a good option. How many times had I bought a textbook, used it for a semester and then resold it right away? Some of the books I kept, just as you could keep an e-textbook (although at some point it may become incompatible with your computer as if it is upgraded or you buy a new one). When I first started this Master’s program, I would print off all the material, but now read from my laptop. I didn’t think I would ever get to the point where I would just read off the computer.


      • C. Ranson 12:00 pm on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Lisa you share some interesting observations, first that your students prefer to use the hard copy version of the math textbook in class when they have access to the online version at home. I have similar observations with my students who are post-secondary and report they “just like to have the textbook in their hand”, they too mention the process of buying used and re-selling books as an advantage of paper text. The second observation about starting the MET course and printing all the articles, highlighting important points, making notes on the paper version for the first several courses and then making the transition to downloading the articles or book chapters to your computer and using the online version is the same experience that I have had. There is most definitely a transition period and once the student/learner is ready I do suspect that digital text is the way of the future. The publishing companies are moving in this direction, technology and media is driving the transition and I do believe education will follow. There are some interesting points about using additional resources and not necessarily a required textbook, I do think this is common in post- secondary education but curriculum outcomes are usually link to a subject textbook as the main resource. I do teach one course currently that does not have a required textbook, the resources are websites, journal articles, chapters in their main textbooks that are required for other courses and the student feedback is this creates more work for them as they have to navigate through various resources. I believe it promotes and improves their study and research skills as they have to read and find the relevant material.

    • visramn 7:36 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I personally do not have any other type of textbook reader than and iPad. I have looked at textbooks on my iPad and thought this was a neat tool but I struggle with reading on a screen and find it difficult to focus. I have had a look at other peoples readers. For example, I have looked at books on a Kindle. I personally found this very similar to an iPad and I also felt like it was better on the iPad. However, my exposure to using reading devices such as these is minimal so I do not think I have enough exposure to make an educated judgment. I do like the fact that these devices make textbook manufacturing more environmentally friendly by saving on the use of paper.


    • visramn 7:51 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I found Ck12 to be a fairly user friendly program for creating digital textbooks. I like that it had content in so many subject areas available that could be added and personalized. This is great because the content in a textbook can be curtailed to the class being taught. I am a visual learner and found it very helpful to watch the video that was provided that gave an intro on how to create a digital textbook on this site. Whenever I work with a new program or software I always google a video and watch it so that I have an idea of how to work with the program before actually exploring the program. In this case, I was able to navigate around the site and work on my own e-textbook more easily because I had been exposed to the procedure through the video.
      I like that these textbooks can be accessed from different places and feel that students may be more likely to refer to their textbooks in other settings outside of school if they can access them from their devices. This makes it easier because they do not have to lug around heavy textbooks. However, I also am unsure of long term success of digital textbooks or of textbooks in general. I think learning is evolving and becoming more interactive and I feel that learning from textbooks is a way of the past that will eventually be pushed aside.
      Here is a link to a beginning draft of a textbook I created:


    • frank 10:05 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I’m curious what the cognitive differences are of learning from a text-book vs a tablet.
      I imagine that this is different across cohorts. So an interesting area to research and develop on are the kind of skills people need to become effective learners from digital sources vs traditional pen and paper, and how to design digital textbooks with applications that facilitate improved learning and cognition.
      My guess is that learning on tablets will become more interactive in the future, and what will facilitate how we evolve in this regard will be experimentation and the data that come from various approaches we try. Exciting new frontiers ahead in E-textbooks.

      PS. what the heck visramn?

  • Peggy Lawson 2:48 pm on November 4, 2012
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    Our Reading Circle provided you with several topics for discussion. After reflecting on the positive and negative potential’s of digital textbooks, do you think the gains of implementing this technology into schools (pre-to-post) secondary outweigh any potential costs?

    Continue reading Week 10: The Shake-Up from Digital Textbooks Posted in: Week 10:
    • jkotler 3:37 am on November 5, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      In weighing out the pros and cons of digital textbooks, I do believe that it is still worthwhile to implement them into classrooms. For one thing, I think that even though it may be costly at first, these devises tend to have a longer lifespan which allows the cost to be spread over a significant period of time. As well, if teachers were to regularly use them, I think that the response from students would be great both in terms of a higher rate of engagement and interest in learning as well as in their reading ability or in other academic achievements.

      • tomwhyte1 10:31 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Like you, I believe that this technology should be explored. However, I cannot support a wholesale roll out of this approach until sufficient longitudinal research has been completed. For some this may seem like overkill, however, I am currently living in a Post-SmartBoard era, and wonder how much money was spent on a glorified overhead projector.

        Yes, I realize some will counter with the supposed interactivity, and engagement of students. However recent research, by Higgins et al., demonstrated that this technology does not have significant impact beyond the first year, but does increase the perception of enhanced student engagement and enjoyment (Higgins et al., 2005). As well, the perception of engagement can be explained by Thorndikes “Halo Effect”, which is in a sense having our bias’ influence our thoughts on a person or item (Thorndike, 1920).

        Might digital textbooks be the same? Is the glossy technology actually effective, or is it just glossy? Like SmartBoards, will this technology create classroom management issues?

        Or have we as educators finally got it right? Regardless, sufficient research needs to exist before schools rush headlong into another expensive bandaid, for like the smartboard, and like etextbooks – there is currently no replacement for effective and meaningful technology. For the textbook is but one resource a teacher can access, it is not the resource, nor the instructor.


        • tomwhyte1 10:43 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Sorry my brain is not fully functional right now (sickness), I forgot the references:


          Higgins, S., Falzon, C., Hall, I., Moseley, D., Smith, F., Smith, H., & Wall, K. (2005). Embedding ICT in the literacy and numeracy strategies. Centre for Learning and Teaching. 1-73

          Thorndike, E.L.  (1920) A constant error on psychological rating, Journal of Applied Psychology, 4:25-29.

      • jhodi 8:44 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        It is interesting to me how students can be engaged by technology. As e-texts evolve, I think that they will have the potential to be much more interactive and include many types of media that will be even more engaging to the learner. In this sense, although it may be initially expensive, it is something that I think will be around for a very long time and over time will become less expensive.

        • visramn 9:02 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I fully agree. Any new endeavour is not easy. It takes time and it is costly but in the end it is worth it if it engages the learners. Learners of today are hooked to technology so having a textbook on a digital medium is ideal because it is more accessible and learners are more likely to use it and be drawn to it.


          • tomwhyte1 9:36 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Unfortunately, engagement is not learning. As educators we focus on the engagement, and sometimes believe that effective learning is happening. We must force ourselves to separate these two, or else we easily mistake one for the other…

            • Paula Poodwan 9:12 am on November 10, 2012

              Good point that we should separate these two things: learning and engagement. However I think they are very relevant. By engaged learning, students use their cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation. In addition, students are intrinsically motivated to learn due to the meaningful nature of the learning environment. So I think that students must be engaged first in order for effective learning to occur.

            • visramn 7:53 pm on November 11, 2012

              True. However, I believe engagement and learning have to go hand in hand. It is hard for one to happen without the other.

    • avninder 11:26 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Good points. I recall hearing that pop-up books were also not conducive to learning but I could not find the resource. However I was able to find the following article:
      Although interaction and engagement usually contribute to learning, I think it may be possible for students to be engaged with the functionality of the book and not the subject matter itself.

      • tomwhyte1 1:41 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I like your point, what are they engages with… the bells and whistles or the content?

      • pcollins 9:57 am on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Definitely a point that needs to be addressed,

        Will some of the “enhancements” serve as little more then detractors from the actual information? And with the young students – will these enhancements override the natural abilities of children to be imaginative? In the same way that some of the Waldorf dolls lack faces so that the child’s imagination will do the work – are traditional texts with simplified or absent drawings allowing the full potential of the childs interaction to be reached more then the enhanced? This would be a great research project for a cognitive scientist to look at with brain imaging technology.

      • rebeccaharrison 1:05 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        And to be fair, this happens everywhere within classes. I recently had my sister upload a video about stream health (she’s an environmental technician) and my students listened and viewed with rapt attention. They got some of the content, but the majority of questions and comments after the video were directed to our resemblance and relationship. Even though this was framed within a unit on sustainability, with lots of scaffolding and a worksheet to complete, they did not really pay attention to the content, so much as what was interesting to them. While trying to encourage them with real-life examples of jobs related to sustainability, I wound up distracting them from the content.

        So is the key while using these awe-inspiring tools to balance interesting, flashy content with cold, hard facts?

      • Pat A Son 12:54 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        The fact of the matter is that kid love the books according to the article and this can be leveraged to our advantage. We have to admit that enhanced e-books are a relatively new piece of technology and it may take sometime for us to understand how to reduce the distraction and increase the learning.

      • Pat A Son 2:36 am on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        In addition this study was done on three to six-year-old children and involved recreational reading i.e stories. This begs the question what would the the results be like for students who are using e-books to assist with their study of a particular subject. Here the emphasis would be using the new affordances to ‘illustrate’ the concepts in a way that no other medium can.
        We must be mindful that the technology is new and we are still figuring out the best way to make them as is seen in the article below.
        The Usability of eBook Technology

    • Pat A Son 5:31 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Against the backdrop of the technological, theoretical and philosophical shift that is taking place in education today I have to say that the gains certainly outweighs the cost as long as the technology is part of a bigger long term strategic plan to leverage IT in the school’s curriculum. A look at Wesch’s ‘A Vision of Students Today’

      @ http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/10/a-vision-of-students-today-what-teachers-must-do/

      tells us that our charges are at high school are not engaged as we would like them to be because the activities at school are not up to date with the technologies they enjoy out of school. As such we have to lift our game to theirs in the domain of technology and digital books provide us with one means of doing so.

    • C. Ranson 9:54 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Tom and Avninder you make some good points about digital textbooks and whether they are actually increasing literacy or just creating engagement through the bells and whistles of the interactive acitivities.

      Pat A Son I have viewed Wesch’s video in several of my MET courses, it really makes a statement about Today’s Student. I teach students just like those in the video and my belief has been that technology is what they want, interesting enough I polled my class today and asked them some questions about digital textbooks, and honestly very surprised with the responses that were given. The age of the students in the class ranges from 19 – 25 for the most part, with a few mature students 25-40.

      The following was the information reported:

      65 of 70 students bought hard copy textbooks and are not interesting in buying digital textbooks.
      5 of the 70 students have download their textbooks – 3 are free versions and all other textbooks required are not available in e-textbook.

      Most of their textbooks are published with a DVD option that comes with the hardcopy. No students purchased this version. Most said it was due to cost and why did they need both a hard and e-version.

      The students report that digital textbooks are too distracting because the device is on and can run and lauch social media, mail and tweets that disengage them in absorbing the content they are trying to read.

      Most of the students reported they need a hard copy, it is easier for them to study – I personally think they just haven’t given the digital version a chance.
      We discussed the weight of the textbooks and they reported they leave them at home and don’t bring them to class, so this appeared to be a non-health issue.

      The 5 students that own a device reported it either being an ipade or a kindle.

      • Pat A Son 11:39 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Forgive me if I am wrong but your response seems to suggest that digital text books are just soft copies of the printed version. While this is the case for most of the offering that we have now we have to remember that the digital format brings new affordances that makes reading more than just processing text and static images. It is from this stand point that I wrote in my post. Lets bear in mind that millions of dollars are being spent to develop the e-book industry from both the hardware and software level. To this end the president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education has predicted that in three years all of their offerings should be digital. He also indicated that the issues with reading digital books are technological hurdles that will eventually be overcome. In any case it is still easie

        • Pat A Son 11:45 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          easier to print the ‘ten’ pages you need than to have the whole five hundred pages in hard copies.

          sorry for the incomplete post. It was an accident

          • C. Ranson 5:28 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Some versions of digital textbooks are published as a soft copy with additional functions such as highlighting, note-taking, study cards, and 3D images making it more convenient and user friendly. Other versions do offer additional affordances providing interactive activities, photo galleries with sound and voice. The sales of ipads and eReaders are escalating; and I agree publishing companies are spending millions of dollars developing the e-book industry and this is why I expected that my students would be greater users and more engaged with this technology, but that is not what they shared in their feedback. I seem to be more willing and inspired to make the digital transfer.

        • Pat A Son 11:50 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        • tomwhyte1 12:29 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I agree that their are potential affordances, most of which I have heard about – much like Flash for mobile devices – but have rarely seen.

          Secondly, what does the research say about this extra’s? For we must remember, that just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. Education, including those that provide resources should follow evidence based practices.


          • Pat A Son 12:38 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            When last I looked the thought was that teaching with computers does not automatically bring any advantages over any other method. However with theories of multiple intelligences and constructivism along with 21st century learning skills at our feet I am a bit suspicious of how these results were arrived at for how we look for something will determine what we find. Thus if we are using the old methods of evaluation with new technologies and theories the can we trusts the results.For me learning is an experience that simply cannot measured by a test. Furthermore these research ignores the opinion of the learner as to which method they would prefer to experience learning by so in the end it boils down to getting one side of the picture. I am of the opinion that given a choice between static text and the digital format with all its possibilities the average student today will choose digital

            • tomwhyte1 9:44 pm on November 9, 2012

              I am sorry, but as I stated, I believe that research – not historical – but modern research should drive what we do. Not our opinions, which yes are sometimes proven accurate by research, but just as much are not.

              Research, that would also show if the method is actually effective based upon quantitative and qualitative data, not just what someone wants (which is usually what is easiest for them).

              Research, that is also based on the latest methodologies to achieve the best results, for if someone is ignoring the latest research in other fields, makes their research suspect at best.

              Many other professions base their profession on Evidence Based Practices… Too many teachers base their practices on gut feelings, feelings that were, in most cases created by their educational experiences… not research…


            • Pat A Son 2:03 am on November 10, 2012

              First let me say that I really like the way you are ‘pushing’ this discussion for it is forcing me to have a closer look at e-books than I ever had.
              Here is are two researches that show that e-book (readers) can enhance learning.

              How do e-book readers enhance learning opportunities for distance workbased learners?
              The findings suggest that e-books increased the perceived quality of distance learning for students and make work-based distance learner’s life easier.

              effects of technology on learning – Abilene Christian University

              This one indicates that a person’s learning via an e-reader device is equal to or greater than a traditional textbook

              However at this point in time there are concerns about the designs of e-books as exemplified in the articles below

              The Usability of eBook Technology



          • Peggy Lawson 6:51 pm on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Thanks Patason for the research references.

            Tom, I understand your reluctance to jumping on the eTexbook bandwagon too quickly. Like you, I’ve seen classroom after classroom grab hold of interartive smart boards as the “must have” new toy, only to see them used as expensive projector screens, too often still under the control of the teacher, while the students watch but rarely interact.

            However, i see eTextbooks as vastly different opportunities. Placed directly in the hands of the students, eBooks with mutlimedia to support visual and auditory learners, interactive activities to allow students instant feedback on their understanding, the potential – as yet unrealized – to update only portions of texts as they require updates, the ability to put an entire library of content into a single, lightweight device …. There are just too many potential bonus to automatically discount eBooks just because there is not yet enough research to prove their worth. I’m sure there were plenty of detractors who didn’t like the ideas of students even having paper textbooks in the first place – and I believe Aristotle was one. I will have to find that reference.

      • tomwhyte1 12:30 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Interesting Question/Statement – Technology is what they want…

        I wonder though, is it what they truly need?

        And based upon the results given by your class, I think for now… the answer is limited…


        • Peggy Lawson 4:24 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Good discussion, and interesting that so far we’ve just focused on one, albeit an important one, affordance of digital textbooks. The ability to pack many, many textbooks on a single lightweight device as opposed to carrying around many textbooks is just one other advantage that digital textbooks have over their paper counterparts.

          Since this is my week, we have thought of the other advantages of digital textbooks. Rather than me providing a more thourough list, I’d love to hear what other benefits you can find for eTextbooks.

          • Colin 9:57 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I do agree that the ability to pack many textbooks on a single lightweight device is wonderful. For my last year of UBC i had two of my textbooks as e texts which I was able to pull up on my phone and laptop. It meant I never had to carry any textbooks around with me and I could just pull out my phone to refer to something in the text. Also the cost to have these two texts was much cheaper than a regular textbook.
            The negative to this was with a regular text I have a physical copy of the book that I can keep and use in the future or sell to someone else. With e texts you just have access to the book for a specified period of time. For any future UBC courses I still would always go with an e-text.

        • C. Ranson 1:12 pm on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Tom missed this comment sorry. Given the discussion our program has with Reps from the publishing companies, our biggest suppliers are Elsevier and Lippincott, the popularity of eReaders, the demands of the ipad and even the newest mini version surpassing expected sales in the first month and all the articles I have read in my MET courses, yes I assume that technology is what this generation wants.  The students all have laptops and iPads so again I assumed they would all have downloaded the textbooks that were available. Most travel a good distance on public transit so they could access them anywhere/anytime depending of the version they downloaded and the use of Wifi. It would eliminate carrying several heavy books, but apparently they don’t do that anyway. I asked my daughter who is in 3rd year university and she would prefer to have the digital version but she did mention that for her elective courses she buys used books and sells them once the semester or year is finished. This is a very organized business amongst the student population. I believe my daughter is among the converted as she does have a kindle and constantly buys books to read for pleasure so she is accustomed to the digital text. The student feedback I did find interesting was their concern or their self-awareness that when using a device all the other functions such as twitter, messaging, instagram, etc was too distracting for them. I would like to think that this generation will get a handle on balancing and prioritizing social media interaction with work/school commitments so using these devices is not distracting for them.

          BTW, thanks for creating such an interactive discussion in the threads, I really enjoy your posts and perspective on many of the weekly topics.


    • kstackhouse 9:23 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I think that the use of digital books will be a modest transition in my setting. Currently, as I have lamented before, we have a no BYOD policy in our school. It would be tough for me to switch o digital texts until that is changed.

      Also, I agree with the statements above related to soft versions vs a different version of the text. I am not sure if just providing the same material in eformat is enough. I think that institutions, students, families will jump on board once they realize the level of hypertext and hypermedia that can be embedded within a digital text. Other features, like sharing bookmarks between devices, writing notes and forwarding them by email or uploading them to social networks will be features that people will grow accustomed to and one day we may wonder how anyone learned anything from a print textbook.

    • manny 8:44 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      There is no doubt in my mind that eTextbooks offer an interactive characteristic that its paper counterpart cannot match. Of course there are pros and cons to both options that have been mentioned in the articles and discussion thread above. I am fortunate to have a class set of 30 iPads and I will share my initial experience with using eTexts for different courses.
      I predominantly teach Math and Science and Al Gore’s interactive app “Our Choice” has been received positively by most of my students. This app is great for covering renewable resources and students seem to be thoroughly engaged with the content being presented. The downside is that this app was developed in November of 2009; exactly 3 years ago. Since then, there really hasn’t been anything developed to the same scale for other subject areas. I guess this is where iBooks Author comes in and we need to invest time in creating our own digital books.
      I also asked our English department to provide me with a list of books they used in their curriculum and downloaded e-versions to iBooks. Initially, there was a novelty effect and many of the students would begin reading the book on the iPad. However, after some time, most of them reverted to the paperback versions as they felt more comfortable with them. This was usually seen among the more “avid reader” population and less within the “learner disabled” population.
      Finally, I will mention my experience with e-texts vs paper versions. Upon beginning the MET program, I noticed that there were many articles that needed to be read. I attempted to read many of them online but noticed that the annotating features afforded by apps such as Goodreader simply weren’t working for me. I can’t believe I am confessing this but ever since, I have reverted back to printing out readings as it works better for me. The kinesthetic qualities afforded by both versions seem to be different when annotating text.
      At this point it seems as though eTexts are the way of the future but not always the best option. It really depends on the type of text being read and learning preferences of the reader. As long as both options exist (which I think they will, at least during my lifetime), consumers will go back and forth between both.

    • melissaayers 5:35 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Just looking at the pros & cons from an environmental perspective I find the statement/fact you highlight “The carbon emissions needed to create one e-book reader equal the carbon emissions from generating 40-50 textbooks “ quite amazing & significant.

      I am not sure what others think about this but personally I think only a minority of eReader owners are likely to read 40-50 books before they end up upgrading their eReaders. New products and hardware and better screen technology is currently being released each year. I would imagine only a very few hard working/reading individuals would get an environmental benefit from switching to using an eReader from actual real books.

      For the purpose of this point of course I am choosing to ignore all the other benefits brought about by using eReaders such as portability, books price reductions etc and looking at it purely as an environmental impact.

      • Lisa Nevoral 7:56 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Melissa,

        I was also shocked when I saw the environmental impact that creating one e-book had opposed to generating 40-50 textbooks. I thought that it would be lower, but obviously it’s not.


    • manny 8:28 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Melissa,
      I too was grappling with the environmental impact argument of e-readers vs textbooks. One would think that someone who has invested in an ebook is an enthusiastic reader and may easily read over 50 books therefore outweighing the environmental impact. On the other hand, tablets are more popular than e-readers as they have multiple functions. I think the introduction of the iPad mini will directly compete with e-readers. In this instance, you can make the argument that it is environmentally sound because of the many other tasks you can complete.

    • jhodi 8:40 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As with most things, there are positives and negatives to implementing e-texts. For me, I like to consider that in our world today, technology and technological skills are becoming more and more necessary. Therefore, I think that e-texts have a lot of potential for students. The potential interactivity and pleathora of resources outweighs the potential negatives to me. However, my personal preference is to use an eReader that has a matte finish screen rather than an illuminated screen. After reading for a long time on an illuminated screen, my eyes can feel stained. However, this is a minimal problem as I can conpensate using such things as additional lighting. I do however think that a combination between print and e-texts can be the most beneficial approach. It is important that students become well-rounded learners and learn to adapt to all types of resources. As was pointed out, the voice-over that can accompany an e-text for small children is not always an acceptable substitution for reading with a parent. It is important that students learn how they learn best and which resource works best in certain situations.

    • joeltremblay 11:22 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As far as obscure or different softwares for electronic reading, I actually use a fairly old, but open source reader called .cbr reader for most of my online reading. It started off for just comic books, but because of it’s versatility I gradually started using it for other things. Most of us of course use adobe reader for online documents, but for modifying .pdfs I use either Adobe Illustrator or Foxit pdf editor.

      I think that when weighing the pros and cons of different readers, I prefer online reading for every time except when I want to read something for pleasure or when I have to do research. In those cases I prefer a physical copy because of their durability and accessibility. In online courses I actually prefer to download and print the readings so that I can pick up where I left off easily.

      As far as the environmental impact, I think that it all depends on where your electricity is going and how far sighted the information in the book is because if the same book is relevant for 30 years, (grey’s anatomy or dictionaries comes to mind), then constantly using electricity to access them might actually be more harmful than using one printing of a book consistently.

    • coralk 5:17 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      CourseSmart this week announced a new feature that will allow E-Textbooks to Report Back on Students’ Reading Habits: The book will be integrated into the college’s course-management system. It will track students’ behavior: how much time they spend reading, how many pages they view, and how many notes and highlights they make. That data will get crunched into an engagement score for each student. Some critics feel that this is a bit too ‘big brother’, but the company maintains that it will benefit students as it will allow faculty members to reach out to students showing low engagement. http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/now-e-textbooks-can-report-back-on-students-reading-habits/40928?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

    • C. Ranson 1:35 pm on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Interesting article. This might be a strategy for student success, there are a large number of students that arrive to college or university and have under developed studying skills and studying ethic. Some will say they skim the content, this might force them to dive into the content.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Scott 3:20 pm on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Should we use digital textbooks? Are they worth it? I say absolutely, use them and in fact, I’m not sure how we are going to avoid them in some cases. Until we have a substantial shift in teaching practices, which move away from textbook use, then why wouldn’t we use an interactive book which offers so much more than a static printed page? For ETEC 500, I researched this very topic and concluded that there is limited research at the moment on the real impact of etextbooks, however the technology is still in its infancy and in general, it has great potential.

      As long as teachers find value in using textbooks, either for convenience, academic value or simply as requested by a school board, institution or government; then why would we not begin to implement electronic textbooks? In my opinion, of the books I have sampled, the digital iterations of printed textbooks are superior in many regards.

      Other mainstream media have all gone through these same evolutionary technological rebirths: music, photography, film making, printing in general. Why should plain old textbooks be immune to an inevitable digital transformation? With so many competing interests and requirements, I have a hard time imagining an etextbook ‘standard’ at this point in time – the technology is simply too new still. What is clear to me, is what has been clear to mainstream book publishers for many years, the printed book is on the decline.

      How Adolescent Student Learning is Impacted by the Use of Electronic Textbooks:

    • jenbarker 4:36 pm on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      From my little interaction (mostly just this week) I would say that I am big fan of digital textbooks. The main reason why I like them is that they allow for students who learn in various ways to view the material through different modes such as through listening (audio) and watching (visual). As a primary teacher I tend not to use textbooks very often. I find that they lack the hands-on, concrete learning that can be gained through problem based learning and inquiry. I know that some textbooks have questions such as these and encourage teachers to provide the materials but more often than not, I have seen teachers skip these pages and instead move to the traditional question and answer pages. I believe digital textbooks could find a way to fill this void by including spaces where students can interact with materials in digital ways, creating and problem solving. Similar to how students interact with an app, this could be part of the learning in the digital textbook – “practice pages”.

      I also like their lightweight nature and the fact that they can be updated more easily than reprint a 2nd or 3rd edition of a printed textbook. Additionally I find idea of teacher’s creating their own digital textbooks and sharing these very appealing. I am all for Open Source Education and this provides a means of doing just that.

      The biggest negative I see is the cost. I am surprised that the digital textbooks are still priced so highly. As the price of mobile devices continue to drop, this will have an effect on the overall costs.

      How much memory do these digital textbooks take up? I know that video, and photos take much more than text. This could be a concern, depending on how much memory student mobile devices hold.

    • Lisa Nevoral 7:48 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      In education, teachers must look at the pros and cons of anything they use in their classrooms. Does the new technology being implemented help aid in their students’ learning? Best practices should always win out over the newest gimmick or technology. Yes, online textbooks could provide a means for different presentation styles and have interactive capabilities that engage students. But does this mean that meaningful learning is occurring? It all depends on how teachers layout their projects or problems and how the textbook is used.

      I do like that an online textbook can be updated more easily and quickly therefore keeping it current. And I do see benefits of having online textbooks in post-secondary courses. But I think ultimately, the use of online textbooks and meaningful learning depends on how the teacher uses that resource.


    • Eva Ziemsen 8:19 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      After engaging with this week’s presentation and all the resources, I am convinced that digital textbooks will become the norm in the near future. My colleagues have summarized the pros and cons very well and I thought I would add one comment about the video possibilities of digital textbooks.

      I believe, that books such as the one featured on your intro page, which incorporated “An Inconvenient Truth” will catch on very quickly. I work in the film industry (and education of course) and filmmakers and the NFB, for example, are always looking for ways to engage more viewers with their works. The film industry already has incorporated ‘transmedia’ into all funding. In other words, you can no longer have a film funded without TWO other modes of delivery (so for example, a website and a game). In the context of most documentaries, an ebook is the IDEAL way to create a work of media with the content of the film. The reason this is asked for at the funding stage is because most often you must produce work for this element. So, in the case of that book, perhaps, they had to shoot certain kinds of stills, perhaps have the writers provide copy for sections of the book, etc. In the future, you could include a proposal for an ebook and this would trigger your ‘transmedia’ funding.

      In fact, this has given me ideas of what and how to pitch the NFB on my next proposal. Thank you for that.

    • frank 1:40 am on November 12, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      The costs as listed, seem to me as more barriers to be overcome – be they environmental considerations of technology production, or greater eye strain etc. – rather than costs, in terms of what we have to give up to further push out the technological frontier of what is possible. The latter, almost sounds like an oxymoron, though I am sure some seemingly logical argument could be made in its favour.
      For me, while technological evolution is ripe with opportunity and excitement, what’s lacking often is a vision. We are running around like chickens with our heads cut off if our primary focus is on how to push technological opportunities to their next logical step, without thinking about why we are doing it all in the first place and what such innovations will mean for us.
      The ideas behind Richard Baraniuk’s talk on open-source learning have the potential to be evolutionary and revolutionary. Open source already exists in many areas and the case for making it apply to educational content seems a logical evolutionary step. Synthesizing new hardware use with, open source and content development to completely reinvent our learning and education model – what Richard deems ‘create, rip, mix and burn’ – is altogether revolutionary. And though Richard’s ideas on what this might lead to are exciting, if not only for their novelty and the potential opportunities they seem to entail for our collective future, I ask why we do it? As in, what does the architecture we are trying to build look like? And how do channel the energy we have available towards that goal?

      David Packard once asked a similar question about the existence of companies, stating “Why are we here? I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists solely to make money. Money is an important part of a company’s existence, if the company is any good. But a result is not a cause. We have to go deeper and find the real reason for our being.” I believe it is time we ask the similar questions of advancements in education technology, or risk worshipping false idols in educational technology, in the same way we did with our materially obsessed system of economy.

  • Peggy Lawson 2:41 pm on November 4, 2012
    0 votes


    Respond to and/or join in the discussion of one of the following articles: B.C. to lead Canada in offering students free, open textbooks Ebook Publisher Inkling Launches Its Own Online Store: An Amazon For Illustrated Learning Content 7 Questions for McGraw-Hill’s Brian Kibby

    Continue reading Week 10: The Newstand Posted in: General, Week 10:
    • tomwhyte1 9:51 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      B.C. OER Textbooks:

      First let me begin by saying, for myself, and my experiences within the MET course and my professional experiences, at exploring a reality with no textbooks, that I believe the traditional textbook is dead, however, that is only my opinion, and I realize I am in the minority.

      Therefore, after having read this article, I felt, it is about time that a service like this was provided to both faculty members, and students. For this free’s up significant resources for students, for some faculties (such as engineering, textbooks can easily cost several hundred dollars), allowing students, in some cases, to use that money for much needed food. I wonder however, what the technology requirement or continual requirements might be to support this?

      As for faculty members, this is where I am a little concerned. For in my undergrad experience, I purchased a lot of books written by the prof. I am unaware if they made money on this, or how much money, but I am going to assume that money was made. Therefore, might they be a little reluctant to give up this extra and continual revenue stream?


      • kstackhouse 9:13 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Tom,
        I agree with your statements. I think the old textbook form will not be able to compete in a digital environment if it plans to stay the same. On a side note I always hated it when I saw that the Prof. was also the author of the text. I can think of at least 5 courses over my university career where this happened and in one course in particular the text wasn’t even referenced once. I was pretty annoyed and felt at the time that it was both an ego booster for the Prof. and a money grab. I could be wrong, but that is how I felt.

        I see your concern about the technology requirements in relation to the costs of accessing books. In my first year of a B.Sc. I spent over a $1000 in new text books. (Of course as a Freshman you never think of buying used…). At this time in the market that could buy you a top end tablet with money left over.

        • Eva Ziemsen 8:05 am on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I think this is interesting, as I’ve often struggled with the idea of making a text of mine mandatory. Not that I have written a book yet, but I have 50% of it. I thought about a blog that is monetized with ads as another dilemma. What about having students buy and app that you have created? I feel less torn about asking them to do this.

    • tomwhyte1 10:00 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply


      After reading the article which focussed on Inkling, one specific quote made me very intrigued:

      “The average price of the titles is about $9.99, with the option to purchase chapters for $0.99 and up.” (Empson, 2012)

      For when I read this, I think great for the consumer. Instead of myself purchasing an entire book for the one or two chapters that the prof is going to use, I can just select those portions.

      However, this sounds very similar to iTunes, and people’s belief that the ability to purchase individual songs, instead of entire albums, has wrecked the album for the music industry. I do not believe this, for before iTunes, most albums were simply a way to sell one or two songs if a group was lucky.

      Regardless, might this piecemeal approach be another nail into the coffin of textbooks?



      Empson, R. (2012). Ebook Publisher Inkling Launches Its Own Online Store: An Amazon For Illustrated Learning Content. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/01/ebook-publisher-inkling-launches-its-own-online-store-an-amazon-for-illustrated-learning-content/

      • rebeccaharrison 12:04 am on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hey Tom,

        As usual, very good points ;). Although I like the analogy between chapters/songs vs. books/albums. I, however, do feel that the “piecemeal” approach looses something in the transmission. Without the context of the other songs on an album, you do not get the clear picture of the artist (like seeing one corner of the Mona Lisa).

        Books, I feel, are similar to this. If this is the way that we value purchasing, then will people begin to write or compose in this way? I absolutely “get” the idea behind it, and don’t discount that (particularly with textbooks) I would be tempted to buy this way. Here is a concern though: I, personally, have read a “non-required” opening, or chapter, paragraph, section, etc. from every single textbook I have ever purchased. If I were to purchase only chapters, I can almost guarantee that I would never have spent additional money to browse non-required information. Does cost-saving strip students of that important opportunity to understand information within its context, or be exposed to information they would not normally have sought out. Are we then setting up a situation where we provide a financial incentive to limit the amount of information students seek?

        I certainly see the positives. Do these concerns outweigh them, or can they be addressed somehow?

        • pcollins 10:03 am on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Hi Rebecca,
          And to further your idea – what does this mean for the author? Are they consenting to this dissection of their material? Do they even get a choice – or does the publishing company get to decide?

          I can see the affordances of this practice with certain academic texts that I have purchased which have numerous chapters authored by seperate people and simply edited together in a book.

          However, in other situations segregating a chapter out would certainly devalue the author’s message. Does the author lose control of their academic property once they sign it over to a publisher?


        • tomwhyte1 5:37 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Disagree-agreeably regarding Songs versus Albums. Yes many artists claim, that their collection of mismatched tunes, is a collective statement. I believe that they think this, and in a small amount of cases, this may actually be true. But the music landscape is not filled with artists anymore, it is filled with corporate money-making machines. Therefore, is it more important to Sony Music have a hit single, or an entire album speaking to a generation?

          As for the using of a textbook to have students understand the entire picture, that thought does have merit, but that would then require courses to be built specifically to the application of an entire textbook. With that amount of time devoted to a specific task, it would leave students such as ourselves, spending more and more time, reading a book, and less time, working with the information, discussing the information, and most importantly reflecting on the information.


          • Peggy Lawson 8:25 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I may be misunderstanding your meaning, Tom, but I don’t know if I’d agree that courses are built around textbooks, as opposed to courses using textbooks. Rarely, if ever, have I ever been taught, or taught, based on an entire textbook. Usually it’s fairly selective use of the text (but that varies considerably). However, a textbook often has a flow, and builds upon it’s content and direction. You can’t always just pick up a textbook and jump around. Sometimes you do need to complete Chapter 1 before Chapter 2 has any meaning.

            • tomwhyte1 9:49 pm on November 9, 2012

              Have you taken ETEC 531…

              Great course, built around 1 book…

            • tomwhyte1 9:52 pm on November 9, 2012

              As for my comment about the entire course to be built around a textbook, I myself have rarely seen it, other than the class I am just taking. However, what I was getting at, was I would purchase select chapters from a book – the ones I need. The ones I do not, I would never read unless personally interested, or if the instructor built the entire course around a textbook – forcing us to read and use the entire book… ugghh….


          • jenniferschubertubc 11:55 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I can see the rationale between both Tom and Peggy’s responses. I cannot recall a single incident where a professor has used an entire textbook over the entirety of a course. In fact, I have found it common practice that chapters are addressed out of the order in which they originally appear. That said, I find it very helpful to have the “extra” material at hand and easily referenced through an index just in case I need further clarification of points which may not have been addressed in the required readings/assignments.

            I do find it hard to take an active part in an extremely text heavy class. Of course, that may because I am a kinesthetic as opposed to a visual learner. That is one aspect of digital textbooks, especially interactive ones, that I am most interested in. I think they open up brand new avenues to learning for those students who may get frustrated with large amounts of reading without other activity.

            P.S. I totally agree on your points about the music industry today, Tom! In fact, there is a musical (“We Will Rock You”) which addresses this very subject. Funny enough, it is based on the songs of Queen and talks of the music of the future, or Corporate Remixed Autotuned Pop… you can work out what that boils down to. 😉

      • Pat A Son 1:10 am on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Tom the ‘what you need is what you buy (WYNIWYB) ;-)’ model has certainly given the consumer a lot of power and authors would just have to get with the program. At the end of the day despite the concern expressed by the music industry about the demise about albums the industry is benefiting greatly from online sales (Jones.2011). The problem is that the digital format has changed the way business is done and the world is now getting used to it as both consumer and producer. For example I came across an article on how the in game purchasing can be abused by game producers to make customers pay much more than they would have if they had simply purchased the game. This goes to show as educators we need to know what is happening around us and how we can best leverage the opportunities that are available to us.

        Editorial: Eternity Warriors 2 takes in-game purchases way too far. (2012, August 24). DroidGamers. Retrieved November 7, 2012, from http://www.droidgamers.com/index.php/game-news/site-news-rants/4474-eternity-warriors-2-takes-in-game-purchases-way-too-far

        Jones, S. (2011, June 7). Music industry’s sales are up, up, up this year – USATODAY.com. USA TODAY: Latest World and US News – USATODAY.com. Retrieved November 7, 2012, from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2011-07-06-music-sales-jump-this-year_n.htm

        • tomwhyte1 5:38 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          A reason why Apple has removed many apps that require purchasing extras within the program that was originally advertised as free – one of the reasons why you cannot purchase ebooks through the Kobo app anymore.

          • Pat A Son 11:08 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            It just goes to show how new technologies brings new issues that we have to cope with. I applaud Apple for the position they have take. On this note I have become wary of commercially produced free product. If it does not have an open source license I try to stay away from it but this is easier said than done with penetration that “free” has had on the internet. For example my free android yahoo mail reader on my smartphone has advertisements on it which is something I never anticipated.

            • jenniferschubertubc 12:00 pm on November 9, 2012

              It’s a prime case of “nothing in life is truly free,” I’m afraid. Many parents, and even adults for that matter, do not have the money to constantly be buying apps. The availability of free versions is fantastic… until they become so ad heavy that they actually become hard to use! It is frustrating, to be sure, but corporations also cannot afford to give away product. It’s when a fine balance is struck where everyone wins. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are fully there just yet.

    • Pat A Son 5:36 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      B.C. OER Textbooks:

      I have always been a fan of the open source movement because of the potential it has for changing education in ways that no other model of distributing software based technologies can. I have also come to realize the limitless capacity e-books have in terms of enhancing the learning process. So to “marry” them in the way that is done here is a win win situation. The fact that one can be modified to suit ones needs makes e-books appealing. This in conjunction with the savings in cost to students and trees should encourage anyone in to look in this direction.

      By publicly funding this effort shows that the people in BC that are involved in charting the course for education are in tune with times. Efforts like these coupled with open course ware will certainly go a long way in changing the face of education by making a more level playing field.

      I just wish that it was done at the k-12 level also.

      • jhodi 8:13 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I have also been a large fan of open source content and I think that it has huge potential when combined with e-texts. Not only is this a cost-efficient alternative for many schools and teachers, but it also opens the potential door to the best teachers and experts in a field collaborating on one project!

    • Mike Rae 8:46 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hey Pat, I agree that it would be nice to see the OER textbooks make the jump from higher education to K-12, but I think it will be a while before that happens.
      It looks like the ‘families first’ initiative is a large part of the motivation for the OER textbooks. Saving a student or his/her parents around 1000 dollars a year is pretty great, and because of that, there will be a lot of public support.
      In K-12 though, the printed textbooks are not purchased (directly) by the students or parents. They are borrowed and re-used year after year until they become out of date (and often times used after that) or are falling apart. K-12 books get a lot more miles out of them than the average college textbook. The savings of the OER textbooks isn’t as direct in this setting, however I totally agree that it would be great in the long run to save schools money, allowing them to allocate those funds elsewhere (perhaps into a BYOD program, ensuring the students had devices to use the eTextbooks).

      I liked your comparison Tom of textbooks/chapters to albums/songs. I would love it if I could purchase a chapter for 99 cents rather than buy a whole book and I think most people would as well. I agree that the printed textbook is on its way to becoming extinct, but I don’t think it will kill the textbook industry. Forward thinking companies, like Mcgraw-Hill, will have to jump out in front of this movement to create other revenue streams. People will always want/need textbooks, music and movies, its just a matter of how they are delivered to us that is changing (changed).

      • pcollins 10:14 am on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        And what about the School Board’s role in all of this? Do they sign some kind of exclusivity contract with publishing companies that determine the textbooks that are put on our resources list? I did try once to get an additional resource for my Geology 12 class put on the list and it was refused – with no response as to why.

        I can’t help but feel that most first year proffs will gravitate towards whichever free digital text is being offered to them in BC because they know that the savings to the student will be significant. But is this imposing upon their ability to choose resources that they feel would be best for their class?



        • rebeccaharrison 12:52 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Interesting point, PC. Another prospect within your example: If teachers use the “free” resource and give the option of having another, perhaps better, “paid” resource, we create “haves” and “have nots” with respect to information.

          • Pat A Son 10:45 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I think the power of choice is the most important tool you can give anyone in our position and this is where I have an affinity to the open source model of doing things. From experience I have found that the exclusivity that PC spoke about comes from commercial vendors. However since it is unlikely that any one resource will meet all our needs then then it is necessary to allow teachers and students alike to choose their material with the open textbooks being an option. I think in the long run free open source anything will not replace their commercial counterparts because after all is said and done they are just new alternatives that brings afordances that were not available before.

    • melissaayers 1:34 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Just looking at the pros & cons from an environmental perspective I find the statement/fact you highlight “The carbon emissions needed to create one e-book reader equal the carbon emissions from generating 40-50 textbooks “ quite amazing & significant.

      I am not sure what others think about this but personally I think only a minority of eReader owners are likely to read 40-50 books before they end up upgrading their eReaders. New products and hardware and better screen technology is currently being released each year. I would imagine only a very few hard working/reading individuals would get an environmental benefit from switching to using an eReader from actual real books.

      For the purpose of this point of course I am choosing to ignore all the other benefits brought about by using eReaders such as portability, books price reductions etc and looking at it purely as an environmental impact.

      • melissaayers 5:35 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        sorry this was meant to be posted to the reading circle post!

    • teacherben 7:14 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Dan Meyer, former math teacher, now phd candidate, blogs regularly about the future of the math textbook. He have come up with some pretty innovative ideas to change the way we teach math and he is regularly invited to speak at various workshops and conferences. He was hired by a major textbook publisher to help them supposedly reinvent the math textbook (I think it may have been McGraw Hill, which is why I thought of it here). he wrote in his blog that it was a frustrating experience and after a conflict of opinion, they parted ways. He recently posted some new ideas he had about leveraging the potential for interactivity in digital textbooks and another math blogger with some programming skills decided to help make his idea a reality. It’s pretty cool.

      Here the post:

      Here’s one of the activities:
      (try to click and drag the dots and you will see how it works)

      Here’s another one:

      It certainly isn’t revolutionary and the programming isn’t that tricky, but to try to imagine a textbook where this sort of manipulation of objects is possible is pretty exciting. Most of the big textbook publishers that are doing a lot of talking these days about the future of electronic textbooks have, for the most part, only offered their existing, boring books as pdf’s with a little bit of click here to go there functionality. I certainly haven’t seen anything like what this fellow has done in the above examples and we probably should have by now if they were truly committed to the idea rather than being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future.

      • jenniferschubertubc 12:12 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        This is exactly what I was talking about above! The promise of truly interactive textbooks on the horizon makes me truly excited to be a part of this industry. I think of all the students out there who have a really tough time in school for the simple reason that the written word does not reach them as experience does, and I cannot help but see more success on the horizon for differentiated learners as a whole. The use of more and varied modalities can only work to enhance the learning experience for a larger population; watching students make connections and use their learning to move along in life is what makes teaching exciting… for me anyway!

      • ETEC BYOD 6:17 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Having toyed with the Apple iBooks Author App a bit myself, I’d say this level of interactivity has arrived.

        I couldn’t agree more with the notion that a PDF on its own, is not an electronic textbook. This fits with the logic that an LCD projection of a scanned overhead is nothing more than a plain old overhead, in a new disguise.

        What etextbooks really need now, is top notch content and design to make the most of the technology.

    • ETEC BYOD 6:38 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      In general, there are a few features of Inklings technology, which I feel are steps in the right direction for etextbooks.

      – It’s platform independent, which is critical for BYOD models and ultimately more flexible, though a likely a nightmare for content developers
      – The curation component of its Library store is very wise and will likely become more important as an increasing numbers of textbooks become available
      – Fractional book purchases of select chapters makes complete sense
      – I think its a shame that their Habitat publishing environment is focused on professional developers, which denies small or individual publishers access to their quality publishing tools

      Most encouraging is their desire to move etextbooks beyond simple text-to-digital ports.

      As much as I love Apple, it seems Inkling has a compelling product here.

      Ebook Publisher Inkling Launches Its Own Online Store: An Amazon For Illustrated Learning Content

    • visramn 6:48 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I thought the article “7 Questions for McGraw-Hill’s Brian Kibby” was interesting. Kibby defiantly has a very optimistic perspective about the adoption of digital textbooks. He has some very good points about why digital textbooks are beneficial and makes digital textbooks sound appealing. Althought I free that digital textbooks are going to be the main means of textbooks in the future I do not think that this evolution will occur so quickly and I also do not think that print textbooks will be replaced totally. In the article they mentioned that some people simply do not like reading on a screen and prefer paper. Kibby retorted by saying that technology will evolve some more and this will combat the problem. I disagree. No matter how much technology evolves it can not replicate a piece of paper. Hence ,those who do not like reading on a digital screen may have to do so even thought they do not want to but that does not mean the issue is solved that just means they had to adapt against their will. I think issues such as these will result in paper textbooks remaining in print.

    • sophiabb 11:05 am on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Re: B.C. OER textbooks

      I think the idea of OER textbooks has a lot of merit. Easy access for students, costs savings for the students (families) and definitely for the B.C. government – no printing cost and no need to purchase thousand of hard copies of books. Of course consideration must be given to cost spent to purchase devices (families and the government) and to upgrade same the ecological impact of this decision.

      I am an avid reader. I love nothing better than to curl up with a book (hard copy) and read to my heart’s and mind’s content. I am the owner of a kindle and have downloaded the kindle, kobo and nook apps to my laptop. I have purchased many ebooks. Yet, I still prefer to interact with the hard copy. However, I am now curling up with my kindle. However, my sight is taking a beating: at work I am almost always using the computer; and at home its MET work on the computer. Okay, it could be due to the natural aging process but I think this has hastened it along. Reports already indicate that there is a direct correlation between sight and computer usage [including ereader] http://www.aoa.org/documents/EffectsComputerUse.pdf . What will be medical impact of this decision?

  • Peggy Lawson 2:34 pm on November 4, 2012
    0 votes

    After considering some of the options available for free e-textbooks, which would best suit the needs of the learners in your context and why?

    Posted in: Week 10:
    • tomwhyte1 8:13 pm on November 5, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      After reviewing the information provided regarding free textbooks, and after reflecting on my current and potentially future practice, I would most likely not use any textbook, even if it is free.

      The reason for myself is simple. I have begun to ask in my professional practive, what should I be teaching:

      1. The Textbook – which is loosely generated to supposedly fulfill all curriculum objectives


      2. The curriculum…

      The answer is the curriculum, as it always should have been (but lets be honest, never really was – teaching from the textbook, to the textbook was just too easy). Therefore, it is my mission not to assign Math Textbooks out too my students next year – but to develop Mini Lessons, Mini Projects, culminating into larger projects, which students show their understanding, and through this process, maybe we develop our own resource for future learning and review.

      For if we used a textbook someone else made, it may or may not align well with my curriculum, and better yet, it most likely will not fit with what my students find meaningful.


    • cunnian 9:05 pm on November 5, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your comment. Good on you for challenging the underlying assumption of this activity; namely that a textbook is a necessary part of any classroom. In your situation, you may be able to do away with this resource which hearkens back to the days of assigning the odd questions on page 46. The approach that you describe could allow for a much deeper understanding of the concepts than what most textbooks could offer. My own concern would be whether or not such an approach would allow me to balance both depth of learning and efficiency so that I might be able to cover all of the curricular requirements. Depth versus coverage is unfortunately a familiar conflict amongst many educators who find themselves teaching full curricula.

      Before you write off this resource entirely, consider that one of the major affordances (this is most notable in CK12.org) is that you are selecting the content that appears in your text… they are flexible enough to allow you to personalize a resource for your situation. Another benefit is that such a resource may allow you to quickly create learning materials which would allow you to more easily differentiate your instruction to support those students who have gaps in their conceptual understanding. My own experience with teaching math has shown me that these students are quite challenging to support as they invariably require much more time than I can reasonably give in a day.

      Finally, your students may find it nice to have another resource available 24/7 to clear up any misunderstandings and support their learning when you might not be available.

      At any rate, my point is that, while the approach that you propose could certainly do away with using textbooks entirely, such a resource may nonetheless still find a little niche of usefulness in your classroom.


      • tomwhyte1 8:48 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Interesting view points, especially when you bring up the issue of breadth over depth. In Alberta, there are discussions right now on adjusting our curriculum. We do a lot, with very little depth – they want a vice-versa approach. Have a few major concepts, then cover with much more depth. From that potential reality, it is more than possible to eliminate traditional textbooks.

        Secondly, as a department head, I know how much textbooks are costing – and I know I simply use it to assign questions. For me that is a huge waste of money. Yes I realize that these textbooks are free, however the device needed to use them is not. Furthermore, this would be a huge expense placed again on the parents, an expense at this time I cannot justify.

        Thirdly, in todays modern world, and the abundance of free information, why does one need a specific textbook. For myself, that is going to the worlds best buffet restaurant and ordering a plain burger. We have the technology now to create our own materials based upon our own needs. A local district around where I teach, has eliminated textbooks and have as a district developed their own, meaningful resources for their students. Not using someone else interpretation of the objectives.

        Fourthly, by instructing based upon a textbook, I am forcing (intentionally or unintentionally) my students to work on a very linear approach to education. However, if I teach to the curriculum, I can group, and regroup lessons based upon what objectives work best together, instead of teaching each inside of their own silo, and find the free resources to support the instruction.

        Lastly, I am planning on having traditional textbooks in the room that students can sign out if they need to on a nightly basis. I realize, that some students still need that textbook, and to remove that learning resource would be detrimental to their education, something I cannot support.


        • cunnian 11:00 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Thanks again Tom. As always, you have provided a well-articulated response. I am impressed that Alberta is having discussions about making such important changes to the curriculum. I personally haven’t heard of such discussions happening yet in BC at the ministry level, but look forward to when (if) they will eventually happen.


    • melissaayers 6:32 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As I do not have a context per say I will again base this on the MET program. Not wanting to be negative but I find myself having to reiterate Tom’s sentiments a little on this one. I find that none of these options seem relevant for the courses I have taken to date. It seems we (as MET students) have already had the readings and material pre-selected and provided as articles and or web resources by the course designers/facilitators. Following this I use websites and online journals in general when researching for a project or activity. I have not consulted or read (in its entirety) a real or digital book for these courses (I have taken only 5 so far so I am not sure how representative this is). That said I have of course read a number of chapters out of traditional text in pdf format.

      Does this suggest in general for online higher education the traditional book as well as its digital version are no longer needed? Are websites and web content (interactive & static) more the way to go? Or will educators start to create content using the new tools that are becoming available to create digital books which incorporate the new features mentioned in the intro of the OER (( 3D images, Interactive images and galleries, Highlighting and Note-taking, Sharing))?

      For the world of online higher education I find it difficult to differentiate between web content and new fully featured e-books. They seem the same and provide pretty much the same functionality but in general web content is a step or two ahead of the functionality that is provided in digital books. Overall I think it will remain the personal choice of the educator providing the course to what format they prefer to deliver their materials.

      • cunnian 11:16 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Melissa,
        Thanks for your post. I think that you are correct that ultimately it is the instructor’s choice as to which resources will be incorporated. I’m not sure that in a graduate program you would expect to see much in the way of a textbook of any kind. I’ve only had to purchase one so far for ETEC 500.

        The problem that free e-textbook companies try to address is the ‘broken market’ of the textbook publishing industry. Costs of traditional texts have become oppressive and new versions come out each year, supposedly making the previous version obsolete. Web content and commercially-produced ebooks are indeed likely superior to these free products and you would think that if they were available for a certain subject, then the instructor would make use of them.


      • tomwhyte1 5:30 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        In my course work so far, I have purchased two “textbooks” – One was for ETEC 500 – the Educational Research course, for myself, that was needed, for my brain needs all the help it can get for statistical analysis and such. Might I have done without, and found free resources, most likely. But having the safety net of the required resource made me feel better about my chance in the course. Second textbook – is more like a book for ETEC 531 – read a chapter then you are required to answer questions based specifically on the readings.

        So, could the entire MET course be completed with free etextbooks – yes. My two courses would have to have been revamped, and maybe when an ever-greening process occurs, this is something they might look into.

        Lastly, through these conversations, it has become clear that many people value the information they are getting freely from the internet, but there seems to be a negative connotation to the word textbook, and subsequently e-textbook. Is this a backlash from our days as being a student, finding little value in what was on the printed page? I don’t know, but those of us who are gathering resources, putting them together, then providing them to our students, aren’t we doing the same?

        So is the issue, centralized resources like textbooks or e-textbooks (or even the appearance of centralization), when over the last few years, the world of education has been afforded the opportunity to explore and capitalize on a decentralized approach to gathering and applying information?


        • ETEC BYOD 5:51 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I’ll weigh in on the debate over the textbook for ETEC 500, with the same question I had for the course instructor at the time: isn’t there an electronic version of this thing? The book was expensive, heavy (i.e. expensive to ship) and as Tom mentions, the content (or as much as we covered) could likely have been replaced with free resources online. Not mention that with the multimedia capabilities of etextbooks or online resources, the material covered in out ETEC 500 paper book could have been a touch more engaging and dare I say maybe even “fun” to learn 🙂

          I think if we look e-textbooks as a replacement for good old books, we may not be happy with the change. However, if we look at the possibilities of the medium and apply the etexts in the right situations, students, teachers and stakeholders looking for accountability in education, can all benefit.

          The notion of textbooks as static tombs of outdated information doesn’t need to be the case with etextbooks, which can be living and organically updated resources. I think of them in a way, as holding tanks for all the spoils of our online hunting and gathering. For this reason, I am more excited about the possibility of creating custom etextbooks tailored to fit the needs of individual educator, department or school, rather than simply replacing an old technology with a new one because we can, or because it will make some publishers more money.

    • pcollins 8:35 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      That is an interesting question Melissa,

      Are textbooks… digital or otherwise… simply becoming a bit passe in higher education? Especially in light of the rapidly evolving world of digital knowledge. I mean, could a digital textbook even sufficiently keep itself up to date?

      This is my seventh course and I have only purchased two textbooks. Both of which were only really supplemental to other readings provided by the instructors. And truth be told – I was questioning why we purchased them; being that less then 5% of the book was actually utilized in the course.

      There does appear to be pressure put on higher education to move to more digital publications. This comes as political (see the newsstand) and student-led for environmental and monetary concerns. I am left wondering how much personal choice educators have with choosing their format for course materials. I know that as a high school teacher – I can only use district sanctioned text books which basically come from one of two major publishers. If I was to not purchase their texts for my class and choose instead to solely use an online resource such as the CK12 books I have made – I would be in a world of commotion.


      • tomwhyte1 8:51 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I look at your last statement – a world of commotion for not purchasing textbooks… I must ask why?

        When one considers the availability of free material (which is as good, if not better) and the huge expenditures when compared to dwindling budgets, I would think schools would support innovation and exploration?


    • avninder 9:47 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      tomwhyte1 I like how you question new ventures instead of being impressed solely by the bells and whistles. I was quite impressed by the TED video with the sample digital book but have now realized that there may be drawbacks. Costs would be the biggest issue. On first thought by eliminating the cost of printing books, the digital books would pay for themselves but when you consider the cost of the tablets that each student would have to buy, things change. Of course if there were a BYOD system in place perhaps students would be able to utilize their tablets or computers to access the newly formatted books. I think digital books may be a better fit for higher education as most college students will have their own devices and they have to pay for their own books.

      As a MET student who has only had to purchase books for 3 out of 9 courses, it was quite a change to have the majority of the readings online. At the beginning of the program, I was quick to print out the readings in order to highlight and mark; now I am comfortable with reading from the screen although this means I have to have access to a charged computer and an internet connection.

      • avninder 10:11 am on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I know a lot of people are meme-ed out but this seems relevant to this week’s topic: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/353u99/.

        I was going to post the the pic itself but the copyright pop up scared me.

        • Mike Rae 7:51 pm on November 6, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I like that meme…pretty funny.

          In my situation teaching History 12, I was bummed that the textbook I had was the same one I used in high school (15 years ago). This bothered me so I supplemented myself with the internet, a printer and a photocopier. The next year I purchased two more recent textbooks (I was reimbursed) for the course that again I photocopied and handed out readings as supplements. It sure would have been nice if I could have done all that work (I did it during the year anyway) before the school year in creating my own book.

          I’m not sure how that would have gone over in my school though which is not BYOD. And for the most part, I think that administration is used to cutting checks for traditional paper textbooks and convincing them that this was a better idea would have been a challenge in itself. But free is an enticing word when working out school budgets.

          I think that we will see these textbooks used more and more in universities, where the idea of ‘a reading package’ will be replaced by the customized ‘e-book’ because in higher education there is such a large percent of students that own devices to use them.

          I would love to see this in my school, but I think a BYOD program would have to be in place before it could work to its full potential.


          • tomwhyte1 5:14 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I think your statement:

            “I’m not sure how that would have gone over in my school though which is not BYOD”

            really gets to the point on this issue. From the previous week, we looked at BYOD, and it is clear, at least for me, that not all schools/districts or even teachers are at the same point in their thinking or application of technology. And, again for myself, until this has progressed far enough, the introduction, and sustainability of paid or free e-textbooks cannot be achieved.


            • ETEC BYOD 5:59 pm on November 9, 2012

              It’s true, without a way to cheaply and reliably read electronically, etextbooks are not going to be a viable alternative to books. Further to the last thread then, will we want to read textbooks when the same reading device will likely have full internet access to a online universe of dynamic information – for free.

      • tomwhyte1 5:21 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        One must not forget the cost of updating the technology (which in the long run, might be cheaper to buy paper..). For if a student is required to continually bring these devices for the sole purpose of accessing a textbook, the wear and tear will quickly diminish its life expectancy – for lets be honest – kids are kids.


        • Pat A Son 11:28 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I hear you on this point but I think that kids view of these modern gadgets are different from how we viewed books in our time. These devices have become more than just information libraries but have status symbols and as such great care is taken to protect them. In addition digital books do not age, do not occupy physical space and can be converted to paper if needs be. BTW books are updated also but most of the time the new edition are not much better than the old ones

    • Colin 5:37 pm on November 7, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I have to agree with what Tom is saying and that I rarely use textbooks in my class or at least trying to eliminate them. I do use it as a resource for myself to give me ideas, a general framework for a course or just for the questions. The problem with any textbook is the lag between when the author writes the book and publishes it and when it actually get into students hands (This lag is improved for e textbooks but still exists). For certain courses this is not a problem but for Business and Technology courses the world has changed a lot in that time. I find I am better off just teaching the newest and most relevant topics in my field at that time and for that I mostly use the internet.
      However, I do like the idea of free e textbooks as it would allow me to tell students to read a chapter in this book and then another chapter in another book. I wouldn’t spend the money to buy all of these books but I will for free have students look at them if I think they are valuable.
      Generally I think education is moving in the direction away from textbooks as a main teaching source and having them more as a resource. Textbooks are too linear and personalized learning is all about following different paths of information at different times. Textbooks are also too generalized for the large population and they don’t address specific issues in a certain area or the skills and interests of students.

      • tomwhyte1 5:18 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I also like your idea of sampling from multiple books, however, my concern is, does that chapter truly cover the curricular objectives we have been tasked to complete? Yes I agree, that it will cover the basics, and if it is only being used for that, then why not. But if I am spending the time to sample from various etextbooks, should I not, just sample information that truly aligns with the curriculum… from the largest, freest etextbook that exists… The Internet?


        • Colin 11:08 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          That is the nice part about being able to pick and choose. When I go on the internet I am just looking for material that I believe covers the curricular objectives. The same is true when I look at different chapters in a book. Often there is one or two chapters in a textbook that I like how the author presented the material or I may not be able to find better information on the internet.
          Also with the internet you can get many different approaches to how the different authors present the same material. However, I find if I jump around too much that it becomes more confusing for the students as they need a more structured approach or viewpoint. Really there is no perfect source of information and I cannot write all the information myself due to time factors. Right now I have been given a new course to teach so I am in the process of rewriting the course. Most of the information is coming from different sources on the internet and my own ideas but I am also looking at different textbooks.
          Also in BC I believe you can be challenged on the resources you use in the classroom if it hasn’t been approved by an organization like ERAC. If you use one of their approved textbooks you are fine. Though this only becomes a problem if you have a parent not happy with what you are teaching their child.

          • cunnian 8:56 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            HI Colin,
            You’ve raised an important issue. In BC we are limited to using resources that are approved. In the case of science 6-10, there are really only two options for textbooks and you have to choose one (or someone chooses for you). I wonder if this policy might change as quality resources become more abundant online?

          • ETEC BYOD 6:05 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I resonate with Colin’s comment about structure here. While the world is at our fingertips online, making sense out disparate pieces of information can be challenging for teachers and students.

            Undoubtedly what some teachers, especially those new to a subject, love about any textbook, print or electronic, is the fact that some else has gathered and curated the information and hopefully presented in a logical manner.

            • Peggy Lawson 6:16 pm on November 9, 2012

              I fully agree BYOD. Despite our discussions of free eTextbooks, wikis, free articles to download as opposed to having to buy a course textbook – I think the real value of a professional textbook, for which we pay authors to create, is in the compiliation of a comprehensive set of information, hopefully skillfully woven together. For graduate students it may be enough to find our own sources and bring them together to make meaning. But for K-12 and maybe undergrads – there is value in textbooks that I’m afraid we might be missing in some of our discussions here.

    • kstackhouse 9:01 am on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I have to agree with what others have stated. In my teaching practice I have had courses with textbooks and courses without. I have found that the courses I did not have a book requred that I be much more engaged with the course and the needs of my students. Having worked on curricula writing for two NB courses I know that we are moving away from the textbook. The stance is that information is constantly changing and that resources can be better allocated than pouring them into textbooks. I do know that other courses, like Math or Sociology, do rely on texts more than the types of courses I teach. I must say though it bothers me when I walk by a Math class and the teacher has the agenda on the board…”Pages 36-45, answer all the questions and ask for help if you need it.” I have seen this! This is not inspiring teaching and I know most teachers would not do this, however there is less pressure to be engaged if you can just follow the same page order you used the previous year.

      I think that having free, if it is free, access to ebooks, ejournals, and other online resources are going to be the future of the textbook industry. The material can be dynamic rather than static, it can be updated regularly, and is cost saving for the consumer (student direct purchase or institution purchase).

      • jhodi 8:48 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        One of the major advantages to the e-text in my opinion is the ability to update the content with greater ease than a texbook with printing costs. Content, curriculum, teaching styles, etc. are always changing and it would be nice to have resources that have the potential to stay current.

    • teacherben 5:56 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      It’s great that there are so many free options, but as Tom noted as he kicked off this discussion, it all looks a bit old-fashioned. Not only are those of us who are committed to a Constructivist pedagogy unlikely to stick with a traditional textbook approach, but the resources that I looked through so far are still heavily reliant on text as the primary delivery tool. They incorporate very little in the way of multimedia content, there is little or no interactivity and they follow a very linear framework that really does ask you to use it as your primary resource. These days, I am much less inclined to bother sifting through volumes to find the bits that I want. I am much more likely to search for resources that can stand on their own so that I can incorporate them into my own narrative. This may not be the case for every subject, but it seems to me that when we make the shift to problem-based/project-based learning, then this is more likely the approach people will take. Textbooks may have gone digital, but they still suffer from many of the same issues–largely that they represent a very teacher-centered program.

      • Jenny Brown 10:29 am on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I am torn as to my position on the use of textbooks for learning. I agree with Ben’s approach to learning using constructivist pedagogy with project-based work but do also think that a foundation of basic concepts may be acquired through reading a linear-based book and completing the exercises found there. At the same time though, I think that true application and situational understanding of concepts should always be incorporated in learning through the use of group projects, problem solving activities and discussions. In the adult classes I teach, the social constructivist approach I often take is to first have students understand their assumptions and what their knowledge base is on a subject and then challenge these assumptions and build on that knowledge by many group activities and discussions and then finish the session with time for reflection. Many of the students also appreciate the fact that we do provide a manual for them. I don’t teach from it but it is available for them to review and complete the questions if they wish. I think this mix provides a comfort level for adult learners, many whom grew up in teacher-centered classrooms.

        • frank 12:18 am on November 12, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Reading your responses, I’m reminded of Sugata Mitra’s vision that in the 21st century, education should be “digital, automatic, fault tolerant, minimally invasive, connected and self-organized.”
          This social constructivist pedagogy to education might have many advantages over traditional models, but as you have pointed out, it may need to be tethered and tampered with, depending on the audience and circumstance.
          Because e-books do allow for co-creation of educational learning experiences, they can provide flexibility where old models proved too rigid.
          But we should not lose sight of the fact that these technologies and the newer approaches they facilitate are still in their relative infancy, and we still have a lot to figure out before we can be confident of their ability to produce consistent and reliable experiences/results in a cost effective manner.
          In making the above points, I’m tempted to combine two seemingly juxtaposing proverbial statements: 1) Fortune favours the bold and 2) Proceed with caution. As we work to redefine the future of education, it would seem that educators will not only have to challenge their students going forward, but themselves as well. As Carl Rogers said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” And who is to be more educated than educators themselves?

    • Mike Rae 7:03 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      business and tech conversation made me think about how valuable an up to the day text book would be for a course like that. Then it got me thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if you could somehow have your textbook ‘updated’ automatically? Or at least subscribing to certain sites, magazines, or blogs that could send you alerts like ‘you may be interested in this article for your e-textbook’.

      what do you guys think?

      • Lisa Nevoral 7:29 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply


        I was thinking along the same lines. One bonus online textbooks could have over actual textbooks is the fact that they could possibly be updated with new information, then easily distributed (instead of a school having to purchase new textbooks).



      • cunnian 9:03 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I wonder if something like an RSS feed could be built into an etext that could feed relevant and up-to-date articles and other media into it?

    • Lisa Nevoral 7:26 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi All,

      I have to agree with Tom on his first post. Do we teach to the curriculum or to the textbook? A lot of times a textbook put out by a publisher will hit most of the PLOs, but many of the questions are trivial. I know of a few teachers in my district that are going away from using textbooks altogether and creating their own activities or problems to instruct their students. I haven’t gotten there quite yet, but in math I don’t rely on the textbook as much anymore because I have been creating problems or projects that allow students to work out their own solutions. I find that math textbooks give too much information for each question and a lot of times are not realistic of what a student will see in real life. Someone who promotes this idea is Dan Meyers. Check out his Ted Talk about this idea (http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.html).

      Out of the sites provided, I would possibly use or direct my students to the CK12.org and Sophia sites. I thought they were easy to navigate and could help supplement student’s learning about things we are doing in class (ie.in Math and Science classes). Students could use these sites as resources or review sites. Sophia incorporates text with videos, but I would like to see more interactive problems. I like that CK12.org gave lesson objectives and vocabulary words. One area that it was lacking was the exercise section which stated they had no exercises. There was a contribute button, but I wonder who would be monitoring this site to see if these activities were good or appropriate.


      • cunnian 9:10 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Lisa,
        CK12 still seems to be in its infancy so over time I would expect that there would be exercises put into that section. I am not sure if there would be a moderator per se; instead they may rely on crowdsourcing as quality control. Hadn’t seen that Ted talk before… thanks for sharing!

        By the way (and speaking of videos), the Dr. Knox Gangnam style Halloween dance video crossed my path yesterday – very impressive!

        • Lisa Nevoral 7:29 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Yes, crowdsourcing would work as quality control. If I didn’t like an activity, I wouldn’t have to use it. If you go to Dan Meyer’s website, he has lots of good math problems and such.

          The kids loved the dance. We did Thriller two years ago, so had to up the showmanship.


    • jhodi 9:59 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      The taxpayer funded e-text would be suitable to my environment. After reading how BC is thinking about this option, it seems to have several merits. I quite like how these texts are intended to be created with the input of the institution, instructors, and publishers. It allows teachers to modify the text for a specific class. The open resource allows teachers to constantly change and modify their resources without being bound to a specific textbook. For my own sake, I would love to be able to add/subtract to my resources every semester as I figure out what works for me and what does not.

      Given that I teach high school, I think that it is reasonable to think that the majority of my students have a technological device that would give them access to an e-text. This provides convenient access to learning resources for students and a less expensive option than traditional textbooks for schools.

      Compared with e-texts with targeted ads, this is also a safe alternative for students and schools. Student information can remain safe and private without any risk of sharing personal information or work over the Internet.

      • cunnian 10:23 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Good points jhodi. Advertising in schools is still a very controversial issue. Access is another key issue… the majority of your students may have a device that permits access, but what do you do for the rest? This brings up some of the issues from last week`s topic of BYOD.
        There aren’t too many details that I’ve seen about the BC e-text initiative apart from what the government has released. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

    • cunnian 10:32 pm on November 8, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Using my amazing powers of observation, I think that it would be fair to say that many of you are less enamored with these resources than these Free E-textbook businesses would like for you to be. And I must admit that textbooks in my own context as a high school science teacher are infrequently used as there are so many good resources to use that are already freely available.

      Given that many of us probably have the same opinion of these resources, I can’t help but wonder why it is that we are suddenly seeing all of these free e-text start-ups appearing. What’s driving this? If teachers are rejecting the use of traditional textbooks en masse, then is this market doomed or is there still a niche which can be occupied? Would you invest in one of these resources (if possible, of course) or is this ‘broken market’ even more broken than these publishers thought?

    • Eva Ziemsen 1:09 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      After assessing the resources provided, I would have to say that I would likely not use any of these free textbooks on film. It seems I am on the same page as many here. At least from what I saw, the sources were not so impressive in the area of film. Perhaps this is due to the fact that filmmaking is very niche and there is less available in this area? Perhaps I would consider using a textbook that is normally $60+ and perhaps it was available for free with ads. I would allow my students to make that decision, as they are in post-secondary.

      I personally have been surprised how little ‘books’ I am using in my studies in ETEC and other courses. I think the most common resource I use are articles in the form of PDFs through UBC’s library and journal system.

      As for textbooks in general (digital or hardcopy), there are still a few texts that I recommend to anyone studying in film. For example, sometimes people ask me, “if you could recommend one book, what would it be?” My answer is always “Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics” by Michael Rabiger. It’s the kind of book, that in its latest edition (published a few years ago) is the kind of book where I think someone is in good hands. If I had to replicate this book with several sources, I would be spending days compiling something comparable. Some of the postings make it seem like textbooks are going out of style, but in this context of a few key texts, I would argue that they are classics and will never be outdated or irrelevant.

      I must also say, that many teachers, as bad as this sounds, often stick to what they know and what has worked, sometimes due to time and also proven efficacy. I know my colleagues are always updating their work every year, but it is challenge to constantly incorporate new things. For a while, we thought our copyright laws were changing to be much more strict, so we all were going to have to switch gears in many ways. However, that was avoided. I think issues surrounding copyright will also affect the way we use textbooks or any texts for that matter.

    • ETEC522grp8 5:07 pm on November 9, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Update on Flatbooks:
      Open source textbook provider Flatbooks announced this week that it will no longer provide free access to its textbooks, although it will still offer an affordable textbook option for students. http://www.nacs.org/campusmarketplace/110212.html

    • Mike Rae 4:04 am on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Eva, I totally agree that part of the problem in education are teachers unwilling to change, and a lot of that is because they are attached to the textbook they have. eTextbooks could break that, especially if they are being updated all the time. Teachers would be forced to rethink what they are doing. Would it be more work for teachers? yes, but it would also be better teaching. If a geography teacher is teaching about about weather, wouldn’t it be more meaningful if examples were drawn from hurricane Sandy?

      I really believe that customized textbooks are the way of the future in that you could create a ‘one stop shop’ resource that aligns perfectly with curriculum and learning outcomes.

      As this thread has discussed a major problem over the years has been the dilemma of teaching to the textbook or teaching to the curriculum. eTextbooks look like a solution to that.

    • visramn 6:57 pm on November 10, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I found it interesting to see that there are so many options for e-texts. I work with a population of learners who struggle with literacy. Hence, textbooks are not ideal for them because written text that is clumped together, as it is in textbooks becomes daunting for them. The visual components present in e-texts would be beneficial for my students and I could see how an e-text would be better than a regular text due to such components. However, I still do not think Texts are the best learning medium for them. My student do better with more hands on tasks that they find engaging and are less responsive to textbooks or information that is shared in a written format.
      If I was to choose one of these types of texts, I would stay away from the ones with the advertising because my students struggle with engagement and ads would just distract them from the educational content in the e-texts. I think I would be more likely to encourage government funded books or Foundation/granted-funded e-texts. These books are generated for learning and do not have any ulterior motive such as the ones with ads. However, they are also less likely to be as vast due to lack of finances.


    • jameschen 12:41 am on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      From my experience as an ESL instructor, almost all of the free e-textbook sites provided on the blog would suit the needs of my learners. Many have resources for both the teacher and the student, so it would be a matter of finding the right materials to suit the needs of both my learners and myself. I would most likely suggest Sophia’s ESL Tutorials to my learners because the website is organized in a way so that graphical information and interactive content are presented right on the website.

      To respond to the posts above, for me, the free e-textbook = low quality perspective is somewhat valid, because there is a reason why products are priced the way they are. However, our role as educators is to help learners overcome their challenges using whatever resources available. It is important for us to consider the issue of ‘haves and have-nots’ before we determine whether or not the quality of learning is dependent on the price of textbooks. As many of you have already written, good learning does not necessary mean spending more money on expensive textbooks. The issue is in how the content is taught rather than the content itself.

      – James

  • Peggy Lawson 2:01 pm on November 4, 2012
    0 votes


    Welcome to the EZ DigiBooks Bookstore and Week 10 of our ETEC 522 Ventures Adventure! Grab a comfy chair, a cup of java and put your feet up with your laptop or tablet in hand.The digital books have been neatly lined up and arranged and the bookshelves dusted off for our Grand Opening. You’ll find […]

    Continue reading Welcome to the EZ DigiBooks Bookstore an… Posted in: Week 10:
    • visramn 7:55 pm on November 11, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for all the interactive activities this week. It is always nice to get a feel for learning tools such as these by having the opportunity to explore and work with them. Thank you.


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