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A Peek at the Future of Digital Books?

You may remember a post on the LT blog from March that provoked the question “how do we make the e-book experience different from the experience of reading from a physical book?” According to Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis, this is what the e-book industry needs in order to survive. Who knew there would be an answer to our question so quickly!

During the same month, software developer Mike Matas of Push Pop Press demonstrated his company’s first interactive book for Apple devices, Our Choice by Al Gore. The presentation is available to watch on TED here and features Matas flipping through pages, playing videos, expanding photos and interacting with infographics all in the e-book. The quality is beautiful, and the layout is not at all like a traditional book.

To be fair, this may not be an “answer” to the question, but more of a glimpse into the possible future for e-books, and possibly even e-textbooks!

Professors Review their First Year with the iPad

April marks the one-year anniversary of Apple’s release of the first generation iPad. The Chronicle of Higher Education posted this article on Sunday, which asked six Chronicle writers (who are also professors, assistant professors and librarians) about their experience with the iPad within the first year of its release. The writers discuss the ups and downs of owning and operating an iPad, as well as the different ways they use their devices. An interesting read for faculty members interested in using the iPad or any tablet computer to aid their teaching.

McGraw-Hill and Pearson Invest in Inkling

Inkling, a popular company specializing in eBooks, announced on March 23rd a new partnership with very big names in education. On the Inkling blog, CEO Matt MacInnis* had this to say:

Today, we announced new depth to these relationships. Both McGraw-Hill and Pearson, two of the largest educational content providers in the world, have invested in Inkling, signaling a strong endorsement of our approach, our technology and, most of all, our team.

In addition to these investments, we also announced some significant content commitments, including the following:

• The top 100 undergrad titles from McGraw-Hill Higher Education.• The top medical reference titles from McGraw-Hill Professional.
• A full MBA curriculum from Pearson Education.
• Top undergraduate titles from Pearson Education.
• A full medical education curriculum from Wolters Kluwer Health.

This is quite a big step forward for Inkling, and it will be interesting to see where these partnerships take them in the near future! Will students begin to more widely accept eBooks and eReaders as reading devices, now that there are more textbook titles available?

 

 

*If you’re wondering, yes that is the same Inkling representative that was quoted in our article on eReaders a few weeks ago!

Feeling Generous? Donate Your First Generation iPad to a School in Need

The iPad 2 became available for purchase last week, and managed to sell out before the weekend was over. The device–a slimmer, lighter iPad with updated features (such as front and back-facing cameras)–was met with overwhelming excitement and response by the public. Even owners of the first generation iPad wish to upgrade to v.2, which prompts the question: “just what am I supposed to do with my first generation iPad?!?”

Well, Apple has teamed up with the nonprofit organization Teach For America in an effort to provide low-income schools with iPads. Since its release, the iPad has been praised as an incredible new learning tool for students of all ages. However, many public and low-income schools don’t have the funds to equip their classrooms with iPads at the moment.

So, Apple decided to provide an alternative to selling your iPad for the $300 or so it would make on eBay. If you bring in your first-generation device to any Apple store, they will take it and send it to a school that is teamed up with Teach For America.

Donating your old device is a great option for anyone who bought the first generation iPad, but can’t wait to get their hands on the newly-released iPad 2. The donation, GOOD reports, is also tax-deductible!

 

Despite Booming eReader and eBook Sales, Many Students Still Prefer Traditional Textbooks

Campus Technology reported last week that although the eReader market experienced a dramatic increase in sales during the last holiday season, the e-textbook market has yet to feel the boom.

Companies specializing in e-textbooks, such as Inkling and CourseSmart, offer a fairly wide range of textbooks for a fraction of the price most university bookstores would charge for them. The books are purchased, downloaded, and viewed directly on an eReader or computer. Cheap textbooks and easy accessibility- it seems to be a college student’s dream come true!

But in one study, 3/4 of students surveyed said they would prefer to use a traditional paper textbook, as opposed to a digital e-textbook. Students found traditional textbooks much easier to interact with, and many thought them worth the higher price. Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling, even seems to agree:

“A book provides a really good user experience. It doesn’t crash. It’s predictable. You know exactly what you’re going to get. Simply putting a textbook on a Kindle or a Nook is actually a worse experience. You’re working entirely within the constraints of the book, but you’re taking away the convenience and reliability of the book.”

However, MacInnis’ company, and others like it, are working on ways to better, establish and differentiate the eReading experience, rather than mock the experience of reading from a book. According to MacInnis, in order for e-textbook companies to succeed, the experience needs to be “appreciably better than using a book”. Inkling has even gone as far as calling their e-textbook “titles” in place of the term “books”. Hopefully, these proposed modifications will speed up this slow-starting industry.

This year, eReader owners are expected to spend $1 billion on eBooks alone. By 2015, the amount is expected to increase to $3 billion.

To read the full article from the Campus Technology blog, click here.