Monday, 15 August 2011


“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is especially important in tertiary education where new research and developments make the physical printed textbook out of date almost as soon as it is published.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.


  1. yeah burn all books
    long live computers and ebooks

  2. I love books and especially the feel and feeling of leafing through them. Utilitarian books like scientific texts lend themselves to being available as e-books, however, I agree with you, for people who take pleasure in reading real physical books will continue to be published.
    Great to hear you are doing well at work, Nicholas!

  3. the application of new technologies in the area of publishing and reading is quite exciting...if you're not a publisher with massive infrastructure for the production of printed books

    i love hardcopy books!
    have been a writer for as long as i can remember
    been a a big reader too of course (both go hand in hand usually)

    and while i've been an avid online reader of blogs, news, forums etc for years, I've been slow on the uptake of e-reader devices

    but am surprising myself as I learn to love my new kindle

    previously, i worked in publishing
    currently work in the arts industry
    quite fascinated how the 'death' of the printed book has heralded the 'birth' of artist books as a whole new genre

  4. Yes, Kel, I feel the same way. eTextbooks is an obvious and sensible way to go as far as keeping material up to date, making it interactive with audio, video, custom inclusion of material.
    However as all book lovers know, there will always be a place for an actual, real book that one can handle and leaf through...