Tuesday, August 3, 2010

eReaders and eBooks in Online Education

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one..."-John Lennon

This is a quick blog, mostly to get everyone thinking outside the 'reader' for a moment.

I think sometimes we let technology drive how we work instead of driving technology the way we work best. There are a great deal of sites out there for free e-text books or even company generated text books for various e-readers.

Though the eReader idea is a step up from the mass killing of trees and buying and re-selling of paper text books, it still forces the student and instructor to interact with content in a prohibitive and less productive way.

We place courses online and ask instructors for self-generated material, but still use an external book or an embedded ebook.

I challenge all of us to re-think this.

Shouldn't the course BE a book? Why send them out to an eReader or a textbook? Why embed a book that is a series of web pages that must be read outside the lesson it is tied to?

Course Management or Learning Management systems allow us to write, link out, and create lessons all in the same space. Students pay us to be content matter experts in our subject areas. They chose our school, our program, US.

Think about this, in one department you may have three to five Doctorate level instructors who could, no doubt, create a 'book' that looks deceptively like a course with material that belongs to the University. Maybe they get paid for the creation like a course development. Now your students do not need a text book OR an eReader.

Even better, immediacy is the by product of a 'course book', for lack of a better term. Now you can pre-assess, read, post assess, and contribute assignments directly from the content module for that week. No surfing around, navigating an external object, etc. Students read it, they respond, right there.

Now, let us take this one more step. In Desire2Learn 9.0, for instance, you can create Learning Objects that can be tied to Learning Objectives. You can then create a curriculum map that is monitored through reporting to track and predict the success of students in your program. Your eReader can't do that.

All this being said, it would take a 6 month process for several people to get it going, but once it is built, it would be easy to maintain. Better yet, be sure its SCORM and Global IMS compliant as well as ADA and you can take the course-book anywhere.

Like I said, it is only daydreaming. As I connected the dots at Fusion 2010, I thought about my own course evaluations when I first began teaching. Students really hate text books and PowerPoints. They like rich content and discussion. Are we servicing them by handing them another book? Do we need to think outside the book?

Anyway, that is my thought for the day for all you avid fans.

Thanks to all of you who vist and share!

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