Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Temporary Hiatus

Hi everyone,

Due to some staffing changes and heavier than usual travel this month, I need to put The CITE on hiatus for 1-2 weeks.  There are many interesting things going on and I have some topics queued up. Hopefully posting will resume again early in April.


Friday, March 16, 2012

OER Search Engine- Gooru

If there is a recognized problem out there you can bet that someone is working on a solution.  Often people dismiss new technologies or solutions because of their initial shortcomings compared to traditional products.  However, over time those solutions can build market share and momentum as various problems or challenges get addressed.

This seems to be case for the OER movement.  For example, initially there was no way to gauge how good OER materials were, and variability in quality was a challenge.  To address this challenge we see innovations like the Connexions peer review model, or the OER Evaluation Tool  released by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) last November.  As these and related innovations take hold, a key challenge to OER viability decreases.

Another barier to OER adoption is that the search and discovery process for OER materials is timing consuming and confusing.  Initiatives like MERLOT have attempted to address this problem in the past.  Now, there is another solution for this problem. Search engine Gooru has organized OER resources into easy-to-locate categories and collections to helps educators and students more easily find materials online, according to this article in eClassroom News.   
“Anyone can now easily search for resources, collections, or quizzes; study individual resources or entire collections; practice with an adaptive assessment system; interact with peers or teachers; and save and customize their favorite learning materials,” the article states. 
The story says that more than 5,000 invited students and teachers currently use the resource, and all schools, students, and teachers will have access to it beginning in June.
Right now, these tools are mostly used in K-12 education and have not gained a lot of momentum on college campuses, at least not yet.  It is only a matter of time, however, before these and other innovations reduce barriers to OER adoption in higher education. 

For the OER movement, as a piece of advice, remember that value is not determined by price alone.  There are barriers to OER adoption, and just making more content available for free does not effectively address some of the underlying fundamental challenges to the adoption of this approach.  Perhaps more emphasis should be placed on the long-term sustainability of OER approaches, improving quality, ensuring accessibility compliance, and other barriers to adoption.  If those problems can be solved effectively, then it might make more sense to continue expanding content offerings.  The OER movement weakens its own effectiveness by failing to resolve key barriers to adoption.

For stores, expect that developments like Gooru, Connexions, and others will change the presence and "adoptibility" of OER content for course use.  While OER may not be having a significant effect on adoption now, it is important to track the evolution of these tools, become familiar with OER terminology and resources, and engage with the OER community where we can.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Encyclopedia Britannica stops its press after 244 years

The digital revolution takes another bite out of popular print medium.  Encyclopedia Britannica announced that after 244 years, it will put an end to the print edition and be available only in digital form, according to this CNN story.

Encyclopedia Britannica has been in print since it was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1768.  It will no longer be available when the current copies run out. The Chicago-based company will continue to offer digital versions for subscribers, as well as educational products (online learning tools, curriculum products, etc.) which comprise the majority of the company's business today.

"This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google," Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. President Jorge Cauz said. "This has to do with the fact that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people.  The sales of printed encyclopedias have been negligible for several years," Cauz said. "We knew this was going to come." 

The final hardcover encyclopedia set is available for sale at Britannica's website for $1,395.  The company plans to mark the end of the print version by making the contents of its website available free for one week, starting Tuesday, according to the article.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Print Textbook Price vs. iPad Textbook Price

An info graphic that recently appeared in MercuryNews shows that the cost of switching students’ four core courses from traditional textbooks to Apple’s new iBook 2 digital textbooks could cost school districts three times more.   Based on a classroom size of 32 students and four textbooks, including workbooks, lasting six years, the research shows that a school district would incur cost of approximately $11,328 for a traditional textbook program.  For an iPad textbook program that includes replacement of hardware after four years along with software, and e-textbooks, the cost is estimated to be $36,000.

The info graphic is a good step towards accounting for the factors that goes into the economics of e-textbook programs in K-12.  However, considering schools can resell the iPads after four years the cost for the iPad program could be much lower.  Of course, that could be off-set by replacement costs from lost, stolen, or damaged units. Nevertheless, until there is ample evidence that indicates technology such as iPads improve student’s learning, school districts should be wary about diving into a device-driven e-textbook program.   

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CAMEX follow-up

I apologize for the absence of blog posts in the past week. CAMEX was even busier than usual, and I will likely be digging out for the next few weeks yet.  Much continues to happen though, and as I promised some attendees, I will put together a brief, 1-page summary of highlights from my CAMEX digital update session. 

NMS had a lot of activity at CAMEX around our three major initiatives:  Regional POD, Community-based self-publishing, and Grow Custom.  More information on each of those initiatives for members is available on the NMS website and will be forthcoming in the months ahead.

CAMEX 2012 is past, but plans are already in the work for CAMEX 2013.  We are planning a highlight around the future of course materials -- so if you are interested or involved with course materials, plan to be in Kansas City for CAMEX 2013!  Much more news to come... but for now, back to regular posts.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Developing a Digital Textbook Strategy

The videos from the Developing a Digital Textbook Strategy for Your Campus symposium hosted on Feb. 8, 2012 by the Florida Distance Learning Consortium are now available in YouTube, accessible from the Open Access Textbooks Project website, and will soon be added to The Orange Grove repository. Also available on the Open Access Textbooks Project website are presentations, implementation checklists for state and institutional textbook initiatives, publisher and vendor handouts, as well as other symposium documents.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Open Education Week: March 5-10-2012

March 5-10 is Open Education Week where people around the world will participate in local events to increase awareness and understanding about the open education movement and open educational resources.  Advocates for open education can be involved in the following ways:

1.       Provide a pre-recorded informational virtual tour of your project, work, or organization.
2.       Offer a webinar.
3.       Pre-record a presentation on open education concepts.
4.       Create or share text-based, downloadable information.
5.       Sponsor or host a local event during the week of March 5-10.

For more information on what is happening around the world and in your local communities please go to http://www.openeducationweek.org/

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4-10 is Read an E-Book Week

The Chase Calendar of Events recognizes March 4-10 as “Read an E-book Week.”  This week is to promote and engage in events that encourage reading with an emphasis on reading e-books, worldwide.  The events are supported by authors, publishers, manufacturers, distributors and retail outlets around the globe.  Read an E-Book Week encourages people to educate and inform the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically through events that can include: public readings, library displays, reading challenges, school visits, newspaper and blog articles, chat show appearances, internet radio interviews, e-book giveaways, and banners on your website.  To learn and read more about Read an E-Book Week please visit this site http://www.ebookweek.com/

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Canadians declare March to be "Read an E-book Month"

The Canadian Parliament passed a motion declaring the month of March “Read an E-Book Month.”

The Order reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize that the ePublishing industry has created economic opportunities for entrepreneurs, authors, publishers and e-reader manufacturers; (b) recognize that e-books present significant benefits for seniors and children; (c) recognize that e-books are an environmentally-friendly alternative to books; (d) declare the month of March as "Read an E-book Month"; (e) support the goals and ideals of "Read an E-book Month; and (f) encourage Canadians to observe "Read an E-book Month".

Canadians are leading the world in promoting e-books by recognizing not only the benefits to the readers and the environment but also sees e-books as opportunity for economic development for Canada.  This is something that is not emphasized enough in the U.S. and it is something that book retailers should recognize.  That is, there are new ventures that are being established in this industry and retailers should be thinking about ways to work with these potential partners.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Grow Custom: Symtext

CAMEX starts today with the launch of education, and we have our most recent sponsor of the Grow Custom Initiative to announce.  Symtext (CAMEX Booth 6924) has also joined in sponsorship of the Grow Custom Initiative.  Enjoy CAMEX, please stop by the NMS area of the Opportunity Hub to learn more about the Grow Custom initiative and visit our sponsors.
What do you see as the future of custom course materials?

I think we still underestimate the future impact of custom. Every major trend and technological development points toward a growth in custom as a share of the overall market. We aren't looking at a simple transposition of print custom (e.g., coursepacks) to digital but rather a major market shift toward digital custom learning materials. This is driven by everything from devices (which are profoundly altering the nature of demand for learning materials) to publishing processes. The barriers are coming down; we should see more custom business as an overall percentage of the market. Educators, as they realize just how simple it is to produce multi-publisher, multi-format custom learning materials, are moving toward custom in greater numbers. That said, we also underestimate the technical and business requirements of providing a custom digital learning materials experience. It is not enough to offer downloadable PDFs, for instance; the requirement for digital custom learning materials is that they be "always on", device neutral, and social. This creates a set of technical and business challenges that aren't easy to overcome.

What role do you see for stores with custom course materials in the future?

Upon initial examination, the e-textbook market seems a hard one to win for campus stores. The obvious threat is one of disintermediation, driven by low prices and ease of access to e-textbooks. But custom learning materials are different. In many cases, "some assembly required" is the norm, given that many faculty want help and support sourcing, assembling, and distributing learning materials into the classroom. This represents an enormous opportunity for campus stores. It is also the antidote to low cost generic e-textbooks: the campus store can add tremendous value by acting as the assembly, commerce and data hub for custom digital learning materials. The opportunity is at hand to take on a strategic role in learning materials content management -- and, again, the commerce and data that comes along with it -- which includes critical roles in the assembly and distribution of custom digital learning materials. What's needed is more than just a means of delivering custom materials on a course by course basis, but rather a custom digital learning materials platform: a universal solution to a fast growing opportunity.

What makes your product or service unique?  What products or services do you offer in this space?

The Liquid Textbook platform is used by schools -- via the campus store -- to deliver:
  • The ideal mix of chapters, cases, videos, presentation materials, links etc., for every course. Content may include fee-based, open, and self-authored learning materials. All materials are fully rights managed, and supported by our authentication, e-commerce and royalty payment processes.
  • Cloud-based, device neutral, HTML5 custom learning materials. Liquid Textbooks are not tied to a specific device, and are not dependent upon installing and managing software. It's an always-on, stable, secure, and truly online learning experience built around perfectly customized learning materials.
  • Social learning. There are Liquid Textbook applications for online, offline, and device use which are all synchronized in real time: annotations, comments or self-authored materials may be added and which appear immediately to all users regardless of the device they are using.
  • An ever increasing set of easy-to-use tools for campus stores. Building Liquid Textbooks is simple, but we can also add support for custom branding, Learning Management System integration, custom metrics, distribution for faculty authored learning materials, the inclusion of materials from electronic reserves and more. We can integrate with campus store online purchasing, and create unique versions of Liquid Textbooks for each section of a course. Materials may be added during the course itself to create a truly responsive, fluid learning experience. We can even offer differentiated pricing for students taking the same class, which is often a billing headache for schools to solve.
  • Personalized training and support. While the platform itself is easy to use, Symtext provides both technical and business support, so that there is always someone to call, and someone to help you get started.
  • Integration into Print on Demand services.
  • High rates of purchase. We have proven that custom digital learning materials, built to be device neutral and social, maintain their rates of purchase term over term.
Who should stores contact for more information? 
Ian Barker: ian@symtext.com, or via Twitter @irbarker.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Follett's prediction of digital learning

Follett Higher Education group recently published a white paper titled “Are Textbooks Dead?” that assesses the evolution of course materials and the future of digital learning.   This is a must read for everyone involved in the course materials business.  Here are some quotes and highlights of the paper that are consistent with the messages of this blog for the past few years.

As the campus appetite for digital materials increases, it stands to reason that publishers and providers will concentrate first on evolving a select group of textbooks because they are most widely used and produce the most revenue.”
i.e., large adoptions will move to digital first because of economies of scale and effect. 

Follett predicts that there will be two paths for digital: Native Digital and Enhanced Print.  We have traditionally referred to Native Digital as "born digital," but agree that Follett's labeling in this report is more consistent with the more common terminology that has evolved.  Enhanced Print takes the "PDF-equivalent" digital and "enhances" it with multimedia or other elements.  Inkling textbooks might be an example in this category.  From there, Follett has some interesting discussion within the report.  For example, their comparison of the two paths:
Native Digital
DISCIPLINES: Problem-based with linear learning
BENEFITS: Better student performance; Engagement and retention; Adaptive learning;

Enhance Print
DISCIPLINES: Theory-based with conceptual learning
BENEFITS: Efficiency; Cost and social learning with ability to share notes and link to additional resources

Within the paper Follett provides their prediction for how course materials will evolve. The report provides an interesting table outlining the evolution, along with several other great charts and graphs.  Finally, in the report Follett proposes seven key considerations for decision makers on campus:
  1. Develop a strategy to address issues surfacing as course materials evolve from print to digital. 
  2. Give key stakeholders a chance to bring their ideas and concerns into the decision-making process, a collaboration that offers the best prospect for practical solutions and long-term success.
  3. Consider IT support when making digital course material choices – both how the material might work in conjunction with existing campus technology and also how much time students and faculty will require to become familiar with the platform.
  4. Standardize platforms and applications adopted and used by faculty and students, minimizing IT support and reducing learning curve.
  5. Take advantage of the campus bookstore’s ability to leverage established relationships with publishers, soliciting and vetting faculty adoptions, then aggregating and making them conveniently available.
  6. Guard against quickly adopting technology because of pressure from industry “noise.”
  7. Be willing to relinquish the past.
 A very solid set of recommendations and advice, consistent with our prior recommendations.  The Follett report should definitely be on every store's reading list as they prepare and engage in their course materials strategy discussion.