Through the process of identifying quality materials, AAP (American Association of Publishers)—representing nearly 400 member organizations that include major commercial, digital learning, education and professional publishers as well as independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies—has recently identified the 11 “essential components” to help educators recognize which products are right for their classroom. These include (and are listed in this slide):
No need for an elaborate introduction here about what exactly MIT is doing by opening up their digital content online. Best to start by simply quoting Dick K.P. Yue, Professor at MIT School of Enginnering: “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”
If you haven’t heard about MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), here is the scoop. It’s intended not just to help educators at MIT improve curricula and make learning more effective for those enrolled at MIT, but to invite independent learners anywhere in the world to use the school’s course materials in their own educational pursuits and at their own pace. In other words, they are free to ‘take’ the course in the privacy of their own home by following full notes and having full access to materials every step of the way.
This is admirable. Truly admirable. And this is what the leaders among us who recognize the true value of digital content do: they open it up to the world. They eliminate all frictions and find ways to bypass man-made rules and institutions and simply make knowledge available to all. They have outgrown all unnecessary discussions of print and digital competing, and about complicated models that serve the select few, they recognize that unread/unused content has little to no value, and, most of all, they are pushing their own ‘institutional’ status quo by embracing the idea that learning never stops and that it is our collective responsibility to educate the world beyond the confines of university walls at a time when, despite all of the technological advances the world has seen, more than 90 percent of its population is not college-educated.
In a way, one can even argue that the same way the print book (the physical ‘paper’ object) is the container we buy, while consuming the content inside for free online (well, not really, but we hope to get there one day, don’t we?), the brick-and-mortar institution becomes the ‘experience’ we now buy (to directly engage with others, including professors and fellow students), while consuming the content (from course materials) online for free. So if we can’t afford to ‘be there’ in person, we can still afford to do it on our own terms.
Everything related to one’s ‘physical experience,’ then must come at a price, for obvious reasons: books must be printed (and before that, they must be written and produced); professors’ time must be paid, and the school’s expenses must be covered. In the same way, we are now able to listen to music for free online, while we must pay to attend a concert or by a CD or an LP (those of us who still collect them).
If we are able to recognize that digital content helps us open up knowledge to the world virtually while doing no harm to the ‘physical experience,’ we are able to create a circle in which everyone benefits. In fact, digital content and its widespread availability enhances the value of the ‘physical’ experience. All other creative mediums have caught on to this but books and textbooks. Initiatives like the one at MIT are a step in that direction.
Materials from 2340 courses are available, and the site is visited by millions. Each course includes lecture notes, slides, videos, instructor insights, Further Study listings, and much more. Here is a list of the most visited courses. MIT accepts donations to keep the operation running. For more info, go here.
Unlocking knowledge means empowering people not only beyond the university but beyond the borders of the United States of America. MIT is setting a powerful example.
Making the Move from Print to Pixels in Educational Content
By Kathryn Stewart, CEO, Metrodigi
The migration from physical to digital content has transformed many industries from entertainment to publishing. Why has education—a market sorely in need of innovation—been so slow to leverage the benefits of digital content, especially given the enthusiasm of today’s tech-savvy students?
As schools and universities are quickly being populated with digital natives, it’s essential that campuses keep up with their technology choices to keep students satisfied. In fact, a recent study found that 73 percent of college students recommend their university review and change its digital strategy. How can the institutions that are preparing tomorrow’s leaders keep pace with the rapid advancements in technology and student expectations today?
I see the challenges/opportunities as three-fold:
Much of the educational content available today does not provide a robust user experience.
Digital textbooks, for example, are often little more than PDFs of the printed textbook under glass. Today’s students (and instructors) are receptive to digital educational content, but a more engaging experience is required to realize the full potential for this content. A recent survey of college students from Wakefield Research bears this out: according to that survey, 34 percent of students said the greatest benefit of digital textbooks is that they are more affordable and convenient – but not necessarily compelling. In fact, those same students identified various aspects of digital content that would improve their learning experience, including:
- 61% of students said that homework that is more interactive, containing elements such as video, would improve learning outcomes.
- 48% of students said their learning would be enhanced by technology that helps them collaborate digitally with students from their class, or from other schools.
- 61% cited the ability to exchange instant feedback with instructors as something that would improve learning.
- 55% said digital learning that personalizes their learning experience (i.e. gives instructors the ability to track student progress in real-time) would be useful.
Clearly, there is a market for engaging, educational content, but supply has not caught up with demand. Which brings us to the next barrier: Continue reading Why education continues to fail digital content and students
VitalSource, Ingram Content Group’s educational technology division, and Clever have announced that they are collaborating to reinforce security and convenience for K-12 users of VitalSource’s digital content delivery platform, Bookshelf®.
BookShelf allows students to access course materials on iPad, Android and Kindle devices, online or offline. Highlights include ability to move between pages and sections including linked Table of Contents; highlight text with one click in any color; add notes to highlighted passages; subscribe to classmates’ and instructors’ highlights and notes; scale images and text to any size; and customize page display.
According to the press release, VitalSource is incorporating technology from Clever to create “seamless and secure data integration between Bookshelf and a K-12 school’s or district’s student information system, all with single sign-on access.”
The rest of the press release below:
An interesting new electronic resource has just been released by Gale: American Fiction, 1774-1920. This “new digital archive” in Gale Primary Sources program comprises over 17,500 works of literature, including novels, short stories, travel accounts, and sketches (“many of which have never before been available online”), all brought together to support research in U.S. history and literature.
Gale is no stranger to literature resources. Its other products include Literature Criticism Online, Literature Resource Center, and the well-known Dictionary of Literary Biography. Given the interdisciplinary nature of today’s research as well as the capabilities of today’s technologies, one can’t help but wish that at some point, in the-not-so-distant future all this wealth (and breadth) of literary content will eventually blend into one mega resource on all things American literature.
Pre-register for a trial here. Full press release below. Continue reading Gale launches American Fiction Archive, affirms its position as literary content leader
Ingram announced this week the launch of a new tool that helps instructors and educators improve the ways they create digital learning content. As stated in the press release, VitalSource Content Studio turns teachers into online authors, allowing them to create content for their learners from scratch or enhance existing files with multi-media items and assessment items. More details below. Continue reading Ingram introduces VitalSource Content Studio, an interactive content creation tool for educators