Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wake Forest Profs Trying to Reinvent the College Textbook

Research has shown humans learn best when they put facts together in an order that makes sense to them. Now, a pair of professors from Wake Forest University is trying to turn that concept into a digital biology textbook call BioBook. The effort is based on the free, open-source learning management system Moodle, according to an interview with one of the authors in Campus Technology.

BioBook is being created in HTML5 and set up so students can see information on the left-hand column of the screen and track their progress on the right. It will also be available online and in a mobile format while allowing the ability to type notes.

A pilot program with 10% of the students at four schools using the text will begin in the fall. Results produced by the 10% using the digital textbook will be ultimately compared to the 90% who didn’t use it.

“There are other digital textbook initiatives underway at other colleges, although most involve taking existing, linear books and making them digital. BioBook, on the other hand, is truly digital from its roots,” said Jed Macosko, an associate professor of physics at Wake Forest who teamed with senior biology lecturer, A. Daniel Johnson, on the project.

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