A place for reflection and introspection, communication and thoughtful conversation.
Monday, 15 August 2011
AN eBOOK FROM SYDNEY
“All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.” - Carl Sagan
I was in Sydney for work today and spent a very busy day on our new campus. We had a Higher Education Panel come in and interview us for all sorts of regulatory requirements, and fortunately it all went well and our campus and course delivery on this new campus were approved. The progress that has been made on the fit-out and equipping of the campus has been astounding and it was great to see students already in classrooms being instructed as part of our VET programs. The regulatory visit was in relation to our Higher Education degrees, and now that this has been successfully negotiated we can concentrate on the exciting prospect of all sorts of educational initiatives being started and further developed.
Another interesting thing that happened while in Sydney was that we had a presentation by one of the major bioscience publishers on a new platform for accessing e-texts and e-resources. It was quite amazing to see what is now being done in terms of making textbooks available on electronic platforms with some added, media-rich resources that bring the content to life. This of course will mean that in the near future the physical printed textbook will become redundant, as interactive and custom-designed learning resources are made available to students.
This is especially important in tertiary education where new research and developments make the physical printed textbook out of date almost as soon as it is published. An e-Book has the advantage of being easily updated and revised, with the latest material being immediately added to the electronic edition, which is in use. The other advantage is that the material can be brought to life with animations, sound files, videos, interactive formative assessments, access to hyperlinked material on the web, wikis, blogs, etc, etc.
Another bonus is that that these e-Books are not as “rigid” as a printed text. An instructor can be quite creative when putting together learning resources for use in class. For example if I as an instructor wish to use Chapters 1, 3, 5 and 6 from one textbook, Chapter 2 and 3 from another and Chapters 11, 13 and 14 from yet another, I can construct my own recommended reading text through this anthologising process, so that my students get the learning text resources that correspond best to the specific curricular needs of any given subject area.
As we move towards more flexible and more engaging educational resources, it is important to consider the collaborative learning opportunities that can be used effectively in a classroom and personal learning space environment. The instructor becomes a facilitator of learning and provides opportunities for the class and individual students so that they construct their own tailor-made environment in which learning can occur. The use of wikis is one such example of collaborative learning opportunities, but also self-selection of the learning resources that each student can personally make allows each learner to individualise their own personal library of resources that best help them as an individual to learn from.
The physical book of course will not disappear completely as there will always be bibliophiles amongst us that revel in the book and its physical presence in our hands. Whatever technology may come, there will always be books, less of them maybe, but one would hope that they will represent the best of what is available in terms of publishing and careful, beautiful and well-prepared editions.
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.