Jason Berg’s Updates

Next Generation eTextbooks as Structured Activity Sequences

What will the next generation of eTextbooks look like? Hopefully not a book! Printed texts are a tremendous technology that will live on in one form or another for generations. Textbooks, on the other hand, — the linear, all-in-one bundle of educational resources — are ready for a change.

The goal of most textbooks is to transfer the knowledge and expertise of the author into the minds of the students through a series of readings and exercises. The experience is uni-directional, not very unique, and often not as engaging as intended.

The skeuomorphism of early eBooks, which contained design elements that were necessary for print material (like a cover and pages), are no longer necessary. So too should the idea of static educational material, including videos and animations which move but never change - we can let this go as well.

Future eTextbooks will require engagement either as a series of highly structured activity sequences that pull the users deeply into a topic, or perhaps as simple starter ideas and challenges that mean little until users explore the topic on their own and begin to add shape, context and meaning. It is with this in mind that we created a knowledge sharing infrastructure called a ‘Learning Module’ which will soon be accessible in the Scholar bookstore.

This surprisingly ambitions goal - to flip education on its head and transform the patterns of interaction in learning by positioning students as knowledge producers instead of passive knowledge consumers - is one of the core missions of Scholar and we need your help! In the next few months, we will be putting out a call for authors to create new Learning Modules (activity sequences) in Scholar on topics both broad and narrow. If you have questions, a Learning Module idea or just want to find out more about Scholar, we want to hear from you. Contact Jason Berg at jason.berg@cgscholar.com, 217.328-0405, or message me directly in Scholar.