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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Video the New Textbook?

I read an interesting piece this morning about NBC's new iCue. The iCue site name comes from Immerse, Connect, Understand, and Excel and is targeted towards high school students. It will include things like study guides for AP courses in history, politics, English and other topics. More interestingly, it will allow students to "stockpile" video clips, and then annotate and share the content in a very "Web 2.0" kind of way.

The NBC executive behind the initiative said the initiative is based on the premise that "video will replace the textbook." An interesting concept. It is worth noting that in another piece
from last summer Cisco identified two trends in K-12 they saw as significant for education. One of those was the dramatic increase in the use of digitally downloadable video for use in the classroom.

The concept of video as the textbook may be taking things a bit far, but perhaps not too far. The future will likely be more interactive media -- or true multi-media. Video will certainly be a significant part of that. It also brings another new set of players into the course materials content market. This perspective is echoed again in the first article where the author reports: NBC tried to find a way to work on the project with textbook publishers but couldn't find common ground, he says, adding that textbook publishers have held a virtual monopoly over educational materials. Change is certainly in the air.

We are seeing many new content producers and content aggregators entering the field of educational materials -- and digital delivery is lowering the barriers to entry. An explosion of content providers will not necessarily make things easier or better for faculty and students. What we need is a way to aggregate the aggregators in an effective way, that allows for rating and evaluating the quality of the content being contributed, and which enables easier content discovery. That is the role college stores and campus libraries have played in the past. How might we work together to fill that role again in the future?

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