Textbooks going digital

Digital textbooks have the capacity to generate entire lesson plans.

Digital textbooks have the capacity to generate entire lesson plans.

As educators continue to pursue digital alternatives to traditional methods of teaching, every aspect of the classroom is being assessed for a possible upgrade. Textbooks have been a staple of academia for decades, but publishers are beginning to replace their print media products with more expansive and flexible technology. The future replacement for the traditional textbook won’t just provide students with information, but will also be able to assess their knowledge.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that, over the past few years, textbook publishers have invested millions of dollars into research that would change the way educators deploy information. One of the results of this initiative is a device that would essentially replace the traditional textbook with a digital format. Already being used by some universities, including Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, the device connects to a classroom computer, allowing faculty to custom create lesson plans.

Coursework on autopilot
If the new brand of digital textbooks inspires massive adoption rates, teachers may begin to feel some heat, however. Digital textbooks can reportedly create an entire online course, administering exams to test students’ retention of the material and grading the results. In a classroom with a full adoption rate of these devices, the role of the teacher could be greatly altered from a lesson plan leader to a facilitator. Supporters of the new tech dismiss concerns that digital textbooks could make educators obsolete.

“The ‘course in the box’, if you will, should only be a jumping-off point for faculty members. Our faculty has the freedom to pick and choose what they want from the materials,” Cincinnati State’s Director of Distance Education Jean Wisuri told the news outlet.

As of now, the adoption rate of digital books is relatively small. The education market isn’t at a point yet that it can completely ditch print media and few professors are assigning digital resources to students as reading material. Because of current market conditions, publishers have been hesitant to begin producing digital products en masse. That being said, student opinions are beginning to favor the rise of digital formats. According to a study issued by the Book Industry Study Group, students’ preference for print media dropped 12 percent over the past year. With the prevalence of classroom features that are being converted to digital formats, including online coursework and lesson plans, it is certainly possible that the glory days of print textbooks are drawing to an end.

Are textbooks destined to be replaced by digital alternatives? What place does print media hold in the future of education? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.