I read an article today by Jason Tomassini in Education Week titled “Educators weigh E-Textbook Cost Comparisons“. This is a fact filled article that does a great job looking at some of the actual costs of a full digital experience including devices, content, bandwidth, etc. and comparing those to the modest costs associated with print book.
The reporter even cited one of the interviewee as saying “Paper is pretty darn cheap, and it lasts for seven years.” There is no doubt.
I think they are missing the point. In fact I’m sure of it.
In 1945 there were accounts, stock brokers and financial analyst all over the world using paper to forecast sales, model financial alternative on paper ledgers. In 1995 they were all doing these things on spreadsheets or other computer based applications. Wow, was the cost of all that technology worth it? Paper was so much cheaper…
Digitization of textbooks (content) is not about reducing costs of physical books, it is just a part of moving to a digital framework for learning.
Why? Digital Learning is;
- Interactive and engaging – significantly increasing students engagement with core educational content. This drives flow*..
- Adaptive – The ability to have the computer deliver to the student the exact material they need. Think of this as a brilliant digital personal guide..
- Analytical – Knowledge of student behavior, outcome, effectiveness with different material styles. This is the dashboard education has always been missing. Try running a nuclear power plant without any insight…
- Mobile – Learn anywhere. The tablet is becoming a virtual classroom, library, laboratory, field trip and more. Education becomes anywhere, anytime..
- Social – The power of collaborative learning is well documented. Even the effect of learning is deepened when students help other students.
- Scalable – By using technology to drive core knowledge acquisition, educators are freed to play a 1:1 role guiding students specific to their need. The flipped classroom model..
I could go on, but you get my point and why I think this article is missing the point.
All that cost for tablets, network bandwidth is going to happen. Content in the form of textbooks or better is coming along for the ride.
*Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity