Written by Guest Blogger: Lauren Moffett
With the changing of society, it seems that the definition of the textbook is evolving into a new and broader definition. When thinking of such an object, one might think of the bulky, expensive books of old, when the latest editions cost about triple what an older edition might crop up to be when found used online. These books weigh an inconvenient amount, not only by themselves, but when coupled with the plethora of books one needs in order to be prepared for a semester in college, they become quite cumbersome. With the physical annoyances aside, the shift into interactive versions of textbooks has become almost essential to captivate the attentions of the up and coming generation.
These new interactive textbooks can be accessed not only on a computer but they have also, more recently, been accessible on such devices as the iPad, iPad 2 and iPad 3. These digital resources allow a student to interact with the text, not only for ease of use, but they also promote memorable, interactive text that promotes long-term memory. “Apple calls them “multi-touch books,” Inklings refers to them as “smart books,” and others describe them as “interactive books.” The services and apps that create these resources offer the ability to generate content and publish it in a form not available with traditional textbooks—a form that could include 3D charts and tables, interactive maps, continual updates, and quizzes with instant feedback.” (Educause, The Evolution of the Textbook) Professors around the country are opting for these state-of-the-art textbooks; some are even developing their own versions of these books to cater to their own lesson plans.
I've had personal experience with these ‘textbooks’ and I can honestly say that I was blown away. When I had the ‘book’ open on my iPad, I could turn pages, jump to certain sections, and even zoom in on pictures in the book’s layout. I could also highlight text that was important, make notes in the margins if I needed to remember something, and if there were any active links on the page, when clicked, they would take me to an animated diagram, a webpage, or even another page in the book that related to the topic of discussion. Not only could I do all of that, I no longer needed a huge backpack for my classes; a small bag was enough for my now compact textbook. And with the use of an external keyboard, I even was able to take all of my notes on the iPad as well. My bag was significantly lighter. I would suggest that, if you’re buying a textbook, you should check the availability of your text in this awesome new format.
One can see how valuable interactive textbooks truly are. I can only imagine what the future classroom will look like when every student, child and adult alike, has access to such a complete resource on any number of subjects. These books are broadening the spectrum by which students and teachers interact with the information needed to succeed in their various fields, and ultimately they are facilitating the use of a wider base of technology.