As Stephen Abram, our trends-identifying Pipeline columnist, noted in our last issue, “The ebook juggernaut is moving along like a train with no brakes.” Anticipating that fact last summer when we planned out the 2010 editorial calendar for Multimedia & Internet@ Schools , we decided to devote a big chunk of this summer’s July/August issue to the theme The Electronic Textbook.
We put Tools for Learning writer Victor Rivero on it, and he easily came up with masses of information and examples to bring you up-to-date on the e-phenomenon in education.
For starters, in E Is for Explosion: E-Readers, Etextbooks, Econtent, E-learning, E-Everything (p. 8) (OK, I stole from his title for this column), he sets the scene with an overview of recent happenings in the world of e-reading devices as well as etexts, then focuses in on more than 15 kinds of electronic texts and content and their producers/providers. In this fast-evolving world, it’s a worthwhile exercise to look at his snapshot of where things are at this juncture. Which of today’s players—“old timers” such as Follett, Gale, Taylor & Francis, and Macmillan, and newbies such as Zinio, Copia, and ScrollMotion—have the right formula to succeed, along with the agility to change it on-the-fly as needed?
Victor also researched and described for us a couple of real-life ways in which curriculum content is moving in the direction of an all-electronic format. The Etext in Action: Two Examples (p. 16) focuses first on a school district’s move to acquire interactive, digital textbooks from publishers in place of traditional paper-based books. Then he discusses Discovery Education’s adaptation of its rich content into digital “basal textbook” format—but “basal textbooks” like you’ve never seen before!
New and fast-evolving technologies can pose complicated problems for potential users—read: educators, school districts, etc. In a follow-up to the May/June 2010 Pipeline column I referred to previously, Stephen Abram gives us some perspective on these problems. Writing in Ebooks Part 2: Trends and Standards (p. 24), he counsels us to be shrewd observers of the trends and changing landscape, but also to be players and influencers … in short, to be continually informed. “As educators, we wish there could be just one ebook standard. We can dream, but it seems that every new technology evolves for many years in several directions at once,” he notes. And “We librarians and information professionals must pilot and experiment. This is one time where trial and error quickly pays off well in knowledge and an educated opinion.”
So, jump on the fast-moving “ebook juggernaut” train, grab a seat, and read on.
David Hoffman , editor