Digital Textbooks: Destruction, Promise, and . . . Cooperation?

The late Steve Jobs once described the textbook industry as an “$8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction.”  As 2013 draws to a close, higher education is still waiting to see the promise of eTextbooks fulfilled.

This free live webinar, “Fulfilling the Promise of Digital Textbooks,” hosted by Kenneth C. (Casey) Green of The Campus Computing Project, promises a lively conversation with a panel of experts: three leaders from higher education administration, faculty, and education technology who have ushered in the “digital destruction” of the traditional textbook model.

  • Rand Spiwak, a digital content expert and former CFO of Daytona State College, will address why the high aspirations for digital have been largely unmet.  Having led Daytona State College’s transition to eTextbooks, he will highlight the struggles of this transition, advise on strategies for implementation, and share insights from his extensive research with faculty and students.
  • Dr. Susan Cherup, professor of education at Hope College, who teaches with Dave Edyburn’s “Inclusive Technologies” eTextbook, will draw the conversation closer to what matters most — the impact on teaching and learning. She will highlight the pedagogical differences of teaching with a born-digital textbook and will address the ways in which her students have responded to learning with eTextbooks.
  • Finally, Andrew McCann from Bridgepoint Education will speak to the ways in which the field of education technology can take responsibility for a true “digital destruction” of the traditional textbook model. He will describe a new framework for thinking about textbook costs and will identify the ways in which teachers, administrators, and publishers can cooperate to bring students the cost-effective, enhanced learning experience that we’ve long envisioned.

The word “cooperate,” (in that final clause describing the final section), resonates with me.   As we make the digital shift in Higher Education, what might happen if we shape the conversation around disruptive technologies to focus around potential collaborations?  If so, we might find a balance between the fear (that words like “destruction” can trigger) and the  occasional overly-idealistic overtures of the word “promise.”

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