Digital Studies Group

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Digital Textbooks

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    Steve Brier

    If you missed the Sept. 19, 2010 NY Times Sunday Magazine devoted to “Learning by Playing,” it’s definitely worth a look. Of particular interest for those of us engaged with questions of digital pedagogy and the future of academic publishing was the short piece by Elizabeth Weil, “Textbook Solution,” which raises interesting questions about the iPad as a possible platform. The link is:

    Joseph Ugoretz

    Thanks, Steve! I had missed that little piece.

    As some of you know, I have a close connection (:-)) to a digital textbook for Art History ( ). I think one of the most interesting areas in thinking about digital textbooks is thinking about what is wrong with the whole concept with a textbook, and how we can provide a true “open educational resource.” Textbooks with the illusion of comprehensiveness, with a flat and pseudo-authoritative voice, scrubbed of character or perspective, without multimedia, without interaction…maybe those aren’t even worth reproducing (there are reasons why textbooks so rarely get opened again after the class is over).

    Add to that the expense…at public universities, students spend up to 72% of tuition on textbooks. It’s a huge expense. If the effort to save trees, or money, lets us rethink what we are using and what a “textbook” can be, that’s a very exciting possibility!

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