This blog is dedicated to the topics of Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education. it is intended as an information source for the college store industry, or anyone interested in how course materials are changing. Suggestions for discussion topics or news stories are welcome.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

California’s Digital Textbook Initiative

The California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) recently completed phase two of the textbook review process for the state’s digital textbook initiative and has released a draft report of the results. During the first phase, math and science books were reviewed and the second phase included the review of history-social science texts in addition to math and science. The final report for phase one and additional information can be found on the CLRN website.

Recently Brian Bridges, director of the California Resource Learning Network, participated in a discussion with Education Week and Neeru Khosla, executive director of CK-12 Foundation, called “Are Digital Textbooks Starting to Click?” A copy of the transcript from the discussion has been made available on Education Week’s website.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Forrester predicts Apple will sell 3 million iPads this year

In a recent posting on Sarah Rotman Epps blog, Epps says that Forrester Research expects Apple to sell three million iPads this year. As mentioned in a previous posting, Forrester also expects six million e-readers to be sold this year or double the number of iPads. Epps notes that the estimate is conservative because they believe the iPad is the right device for the wrong consumer and there is a “fundamental disconnect between the design of the device and the profile of the customer who would most benefit from using it.” The iPad could be a great device for casual PC users but the hardware forces users to buy special docks or rely on a wireless connection to move content on and off of the device. Mainstream consumers may not be familiar with this so Apple will need to teach consumers a new way of computing in order to sell more devices. Epps points out that it is the cultural impact, rather than the number of devices sold, that will be truly significant this year. “It may be only 3 million people that buy the iPad this year, but the number that will reimagine how they use devices will be far greater. And that will be the lasting impact of the iPad. In three years, we’ll look back and marvel not at how many units Apple sold, but at the way Apple changed computing. The iPad may not have GPS (at least in the WiFi-only version), but it’s a road map for where computing is going: Curated, cloud-based experiences that are visual and tactile.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

McGraw-Hill and Intel partner to deliver digital reading program to elementary schools

According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, McGraw-Hill Education has partnered with Intel Corporation to create a digital reading program for elementary schools. The McGraw-Hill curriculum called LEAD21 will be offered on Intel waterproof computers designed for students. The computers will be Wi-Fi enabled, include a touch screen, and give students the option to convert the device from a laptop to a tablet. Schools can choose to purchase the curriculum and computer separately or bundled.

The article points out that the companies will likely face the challenge of marketing their program to schools with tight budgets and others that may be hesitant to try new digital reading devices. McGraw-Hill hopes that aligning the content with the device will help to boost sales.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New screen technology for e-readers

A recent article on BBC’s website discusses an interesting new display technology that is in development by Dutch company, Liquavista. The display uses Electrowetting technology which combines features from both E Ink and LCD screens. The display is similar to E Ink because it can be used in the sunlight without backlighting and is more energy efficient than LCD screens. The display is similar to LCD screens because it is color, fast enough to run video, and can be used in darker environments with backlighting. Liquavista expects the screen technology to be incorporated into e-readers by the middle of next year and eventually it could be used in smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions. Liquavista is also working with Plastic Logic, creator of the Que e-reader, to explore other opportunities. The companies hope that within three years time they will be able to produce a flexible color magazine that updates automatically and runs videos.

Monday, April 26, 2010

University of Cincinnati and OhioLink research student textbook preferences

An article from Campus Technology discusses a research project to understand student textbook preferences that is being conducted by Charles Ginn, a field service assistant professor from the University of Cincinnati, and Stephen Acker, research director of OhioLINK’s eText Project. The project recently gave 2,000 students, which were enrolled in 14 sections of an introductory psychology course, the opportunity to purchase either a new print textbook or a cheaper e-textbook. The students involved in the study included those of traditional age (18 to 24) and non-traditional age as well as students taking the course in the classroom and online. The results showed that 22 percent of the students purchased the e-textbook and 41 percent of those students said that they preferred the e-textbook to a traditional textbook. Traditional aged college students were also 1.73 times more likely to purchase the e-textbook than students that were 24 years or older.

According to Charles Ginn, the goal of the project is to work with publishers and college stores to provide students with the option to choose between textbooks and e-textbooks. The initiative conducted for the introductory psychology course will be used as a model for other courses.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

E Ink’s next generation e-paper

A posting on the Electronista blog features two video demos of E Ink’s next generation e-paper. The prototype in the first video has nearly double the contrast ratio of current e-paper and is able to display animations. The new e-paper will be in production in the coming months and could be incorporated into some devices later this year.

The second video features a display that can be bent slightly and is more durable than current e-paper. In the video, Sriram Peruvemba, Vice President of Marketing at E Ink, says that the display will be used for dedicated textbook devices which have not been announced yet. This display will likely be available towards the end of this year or early next year.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Newspaper of the future

The Digital Reader Blog has an interesting posting about a newspaper concept that was designed by students at the Art Center College of Design. The concept displays the news on foldable, bendable, weather proof “smart paper” which has not yet been invented. The posting includes a few videos to demonstrate the concept.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kakai’s e-reader/notebook for education

According to an article on the All Things Digital website, Osman Rashid, the co-founder of Chegg, the popular online service for renting and selling textbooks, is also the co-founder of another tech startup company called Kakai that is secretly working on a foldable dual-screen e-reader/notebook device for the education market. The device will be powered by a Linux operating system, support gesture-based touch, include software and web access to deliver course materials, and include note taking, audio, and video capabilities. Additional details have not been revealed but we can expect to hear more about this device in the coming months.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New digital textbook projections...

Xplana – the company recently acquired by MBS has put out a very interesting 5-year digital textbook sales projection report based on their research. Some NACS data is cited in the briefing. They estimate the current total market share of digital textbooks in the US to be at 0.5%, which appears accurate if accounting for all titles across all institutions and assuming print-equivalent substitutes (e.g., “pdf versions” of the textbooks and not other digital products that might be substitutes). They estimate that this market will grow to 18.8% of total US textbook sales in 5 years, and exceed 50% by the end of the decade.

I believe this estimate to be a little conservative, but certainly within the boundaries we have estimated. I think where our estimates diverge is that they expect the growth of digital sales over the next five years respectively to be 100%, 150%, 120%, 90% and 80%. We expect that the curve will peak at a higher growth rate and that the growth decay will take longer to set in – in part by using conversion/growth trajectories of trade books and music transitions as examples. However, they provide reasonable factors to explain growth and some rationale for the growth decay that are certainly plausible. The growth factors they identify are ones we are also tracking.

I believe our current best estimates project digital textbooks comprising between 10 to 50 percent of textbook sales in 5 years, with 10% being a most conservative estimate and 50% being a ‘most favorable conditions’ estimate. Something in the range of 20 to 40% might be more accurate, based on an assumption of more consistent 100 to 150% growth over the time period. However, there are many, many factors at play here, some of which are exceptionally difficult to predict. Reality could hit anywhere within the spectrum, or either below or above. Data from the 2010-2011 academic year should be particularly enlightening in this regard.

In 2007 we predicted that by 2012 digital textbook sales would begin to have an effect within the industry, with pickup beginning around 2010 to 2011. Follett has previously made projections that are comparable to ours regarding the projected timeline for transition from predominantly print to more predominantly digital. This projection by Xplana is also consistent with our range of projections and timeline. If we take a conservative stance, it appears increasingly reasonable to expect that we might see at least 15% of the textbook business move to digital formats over the next five years. If college stores hope to retain or capture that business and continue to provide students with the choices and products that meet their expectations, they have a narrowing window of opportunity to engage in their future.

The Xplana report identifies some very reasonable outcomes that might result from their projections, although those implications are focused more on publishers than retailers. That said, the Xplana report is well-written (if brief) and worth a read, as the implications of the collegiate retail industry losing up to 18.8% market share for textbooks in five years if it has failed to prepare properly for digital should be obvious.

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NYU Bookstore experiments with digital textbooks

A recent article from the New York University student newspaper discusses the NYU Bookstore’s efforts to provide students with more choice when it comes to textbook format. Last fall, the bookstore began a pilot program to give students the opportunity to purchase digital textbooks through Cafescribe and this fall it will also begin offering digital textbooks through Jumpbooks. In the article, Phil Christopher, director of NYU Bookstores commented, “I think, as we go forward, that eBooks will simply become a format that more and more students are going to want, and we wanted to be able to offer that to them.”

The NYU Bookstore is a great example of a store that is taking the time to experiment with digital options and find out what works for students. Going forward, providing students with a choice will be extremely important and will help to keep textbook sales on campus.

This semester NYU is also participating in the NMS Digital Content Platform pilot.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Challenges for the iPad in Higher Ed

According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, some universities are reporting security and connectivity issues that are preventing students from accessing university networks with their iPad devices. George Washington University has said that the security features on its wireless network do not support the iPad. Princeton University is also reporting a connectivity issue and has had to block 20 percent of the devices from its network. The universities are working to resolve the problems but it could be months before the devices are fully supported. Other universities including NYU report that the devices work fine on their campuses.

Apart from the network issue, there is also the issue that textbooks are not yet available on the iPad. As we discussed in a prior posting, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, Pearson, and Kaplan Publishing have all partnered with ScrollMotion to turn their textbooks and test-prep guides into applications for the iPad but so far only Kaplan has a few study guides available. According to the WSJ article, ScrollMotion co-founder, Josh Koppel, said that the textbooks will be available within “several months” but further details were not provided.

Update: The WSJ article reported that Cornell University was also experiencing network and connectivity issues but an article from The Cornell Daily Sun says that the university is not experiencing any issues. This posting has been updated to reflect the change.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The CITE turns 2

Hi everyone,

This past weekend, April 17th, the CITE turned two years old. We would like to thank the many readers and visitors who have taken an interest in our blog. As of this past weekend, we have had 39,564 unique visitors. While nearly 80 percent of our traffic comes from the US and Canada, we have seen visitors from 160 different countries, with a large percentage of our visitors returning regularly. The future of course materials in a digital context is clearly topic with global interest if our readership is any indicator.

Many thanks to all of you for visiting the CITE. We hope to continue providing value and interest to you the years ahead.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Laws of Disruption

Here is an interesting video from Larry Downes, author of The Laws of Disruption: Harnessing the New Forces that Govern Life and Business in the Digital Age. The Law of Disruption states that, “social, political, and economic systems change incrementally, but technology changes exponentially" and this video takes a look at just how much technology has changed newspapers, video games, cell phones, and televisions over the last 20+ years.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kindles and Nooks available at new retail outlets

According to recent reports, Barnes & Noble and Amazon are reacting to the release of the Apple iPad by moving their e-readers into new retail outlets. Within the coming weeks, Amazon Kindles will be available at Target stores and B&N Nook e-readers will be available at Best Buy stores. According to a posting on BestTabletReview.com, Best Buy will also include the Nook e-reader software on select laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, and netbooks.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Latest iPad news

The iPad was released nearly two weeks ago but the news stories have hardly slowed down. Here is a round up of some of the latest articles:
  • An article on Daily Illini.com says that the Illini Apple Center which serves the University of Illinois sold out of iPads quickly and orders keep coming in. The Illini Union Bookstore is also working with the university to figure out how to implement e-textbooks and e-readers on campus.
  • An article from the Los Angeles Times compares the features of the iPad to the Kindle and notes that the iPad engages readers in ways that the Kindle does not.
  • According to a posting on Apple’s website, the company sold more than 500,000 iPads during the first week the device was on the market. The posting notes, “demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad.” As a result of the strong demand in the U.S., Apple has postponed the worldwide release of the device until the end of May.
  • Digital Book World has an informative review of the iPad.
  • The New York Times’ Room For Debate blog features six interesting essays about the iPad from the eyes of the “digerati.”
  • A new report from Flurry, a company that tracks new project starts by developers to gauge interest across mobile platforms, says that application development for the iPad is on the rise. Of all the new mobile application projects that began in February and March, 22 percent were for the iPad.

And a little bit of humor…

Here is a funny video for those who can not quite articulate the need for an iPad but know that they have to have one.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Understanding the iGeneration

eSchool News has an interesting article that discusses some of the topics covered in a new book written by psychology professor, Larry D, Rosen, called Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn. Rosen refers to the iGeneration as children born in the 1990s that have never lived without technology and because of that, they learn much differently than students even a few years older. These students are always connected to their mobile devices and they view technology as an expectation rather than a tool. The iGeneration students also prefer to be highly engaged and multitask. Rosen commented, “If we look at kids who spend their entire day online multitasking, in many ways teachers are still asking them to learn one task at a time and in an old-fashioned way.” Rosen suggests that K-12 schools design multidimensional lessons that are similar to the way students live and work outside of school.

These thoughts are in line with the data from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Survey which we discussed in a posting last week. While these studies focus on K-12, we need to remember that these students will be entering college within the coming years and they will bring their expectations for using technology in the classroom with them. College stores need to begin experimenting with digital textbooks and digital offerings because these students will be looking for these options at the store. Is your store preparing for the next generation of learners?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Study finds 22 percent increase in online education enrollment at community colleges

The Instructional Technology Council has just published the findings from its study on the impact of online learning at community colleges. The study found that during the 2008-09 academic year there was a 22 percent increase in online education enrollment which is up from an 11 percent increase the prior year. The growth rate is also higher than the 17 percent growth that the Sloan Consortium recently reported for online learning across all higher education institutions and is significantly greater than the overall higher education growth rate of 1.2 percent.

Survey respondents named three reasons for the increase in enrollments at community colleges including: the economic downturn (42 percent), typical growth for distance education classes (39 percent), and new enrollment initiatives (16 percent). In an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fred Lokken, author of the report, pointed out that community college enrollment has increased in general with the economic downturn and online courses are especially appealing to those looking for new jobs. Lokken also said that the higher growth for online courses at community colleges could be because community colleges show more enthusiasm towards these programs.

The survey also found that the gap between online learning and face-to-face student completion rates continues to decrease. This year, the completion rate for online learning programs was 72 percent compared to face-to-face at 76 percent.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Upcoming tablet devices

An interesting article from The New York Times, discusses the new tablets that are expected to hit the market within the coming months and compete with the Apple iPad. Companies such as Google, Nokia, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, and Acer are all said to be working on devices. The article notes that Apple could face the most competition from nontraditional device manufacturers such as Google. In recent months, Google has been working with hardware manufacturers to incorporate its Android software which competes with Apple’s iPhone operating system. Google also hopes to make its own app type store and has been “experimenting in ‘stealth mode’ with a few publishers to explore delivery of books, magazines and other content on the tablet.”

In a follow-up posting on the Bits Blog, it notes that Google plans to have at least one feature that the iPad lacks which is Adobe Flash support. The posting also says that Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, commented in a conversation that “Google might not get it right the first time” but believes that the company will have “the next two or three years to figure it out.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

iSuppli predicts Apple will sell over seven million iPads this year

Market Research firm, iSuppli, is predicting that Apple will sell 7.1 million iPads this year. It also predicts that sales will more than double next year to 14.4 million units and by 2012 sales could reach 20.1 million units. In an article from Information Week, the company said that sales could go even higher if enhancements such as Flash support are added to the device.

In the coming months, Apple will face competition as more tablet devices hit the market but for now it has the advantage of being first to market. Rhonda Alexander, iSuppli analyst, commented that the "key to continuing success will be how quickly Apple responds to issues as they arise and whether the company can align suppliers to meet demand needs."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Children’s books in 3D

Researchers at South Korea’s Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology have announced the creation of two children’s books that incorporate 3D technology. According to an article from Reuters, when the books are tilted the animation is activated for those wearing 3D glasses. Kim Sang-cheol, team leader of the project, said that the technology could be used for all types of books and eventually on smartphones or museum exhibits but “it will take a while to market this technology to the general public.”

Saturday, April 10, 2010

E-reader buyer’s guide

Information Week has created an informative e-reader buyer’s guide that is worth checking out. It includes specs and pros/cons for the following devices: Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, the Apple iPad, Plastic Logic Que, Skiff Reader, and Spring Design Alex.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Quote of day -- and Feb 2010 E-book sales stats

A great quote for today from the recent BISG advertisement for their "Making Information Pay 2010" conference in May:
One things for sure: digital change in publishing is inexorable--and the direction is one way. We will not suddenly find the number of bookstores growing or the e-book market shrinking. Explore what happens as digital share grows and printed share shrinks...

In the context of that quote, E-book sales statistics for February 2010 were released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) via IDPF. Trade e-book sales were $28.9 million for February 2010, a 339.3% increase over February 2009. Interestingly, the combined sales for January and February 2010 total more than the sales for Q4 2009 which was the previous highest quarter. IDPF reports calendar year to date revenue is up 292.2%.

Note: These figures represent the 12 to 15 trade book publishers who have been willing to supply their data to IDPF. The numbers are generally believed to underestimate the overall growth and size of the trade e-book market.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Survey 2009

Project Tomorrow has released a report with the results from its annual Speak Up survey which asks K-12 students, parents, teachers, and administrators their opinions on education, technology, 21st-century skills, schools of the future, and math and science instruction. According to the report, this year’s data continues to show that there is a significant digital disconnect between students and teachers/administrators and as a result “K-12 students are increasingly taking responsibility for their own learning, defining their own education path through alternative sources, and feeling not just a right but a responsibility for creating personalized learning experiences.” Outside of the classroom students are actively taking online classes to learn more about a subject, accessing podcasts and videos for additional learning opportunities, seeking help from other students via Facebook, and taking online assessments to evaluate their knowledge on a particular topic.

One interesting section of the report focuses on online textbooks and how students responded when asked to design the ultimate online textbook. The student responses showed that they want textbooks that are similar to the online tools and applications that they use outside of school. The responses focused on three themes including: students want their online textbooks to be interactive and up-to-date, the textbooks should have tools that facilitate collaboration, and students want to use the textbooks to personalize learning.

This report is the first in a series of reports that will be created with the 2009 Speak Up data.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Online book piracy study

Attributor, creator of an online monitoring and enforcement service, recently released some interesting results from its study on online book piracy. The study looked at illegal downloads of 913 popular titles and found that nine million copies were illegally downloaded from October to December of 2009. Titles within the Business & Investing, Professional & Technical, and Science categories were downloaded most often. For each of the titles tracked, the average number of illegal downloads was 10,000 copies.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Google Grant Program to study digitized books

Judge Denny Chin has yet to rule on the Google Book Search settlement but according to The Chronicle, Google is moving ahead and has initiated a grant program that will give select humanities researchers an opportunity to participate in text-mining research of the digitized books. The researchers will work on projects such as building software to track language changes and creating search functions to discover content of interest. It is not clear if the researchers will be able to access the controversial digitized volumes that are protected by copyright. However, as noted by Matthew L Jockers, a lecturer and academic-technology specialist in Stanford’s English department, even without the titles the corpus is “far, far bigger than anything we have had access to in the past.”

Details about the grant program are being kept quiet but it is thought that Google is seeking researchers from its university partners which have allowed their collections to be scanned.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The iPad

The iPad launched over the weekend and today there are tons of articles and reviews of the device. Here is a round-up of some of the news:

  • According to Apple’s website the company sold over 300,000 iPads on Saturday. Users also downloaded over one million apps and over 250,000 e-books from the iBookstore during the first day. The Bits Blog points out that Apple sold 270,000 first generation iPhones the day it launched in 2007.
  • The arrival of the iPad has prompted many questions from CIO’s. An article from Inside Higher Ed discusses some of the opinions and questions that have come up.
  • The New York Times has an article that compares iBooks to the Kindle for iPad app. Currently the iBooks app has about 60,000 paid titles and 30,000 free titles compared to the Kindle’s 450,000 titles. The verdict is that iBooks is the better app and Kindle is the better platform.
  • The ZDNet Blog takes a look at the iBooks, Kindle, and Kobo reading apps for the iPad (the Barnes & Noble app is not yet available).
  • Joe Wikert and an article from NPR discuss some pros and cons of the device.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

iPad review

David Pogue from The New York Times has written an informative review of the iPad from both the technie and non-technie perspectives. Pogue noted that a single review could not serve both groups because he has never seen a product as polarizing as Apple’s iPad.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review of the Entourage Edge

The New York Times recently featured a review of the Entourage Edge that was written by The Associated Press. The Teleread Blog also has a video that accompanies the review.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Future of publishing video

Here's another thoughtful video. It was posted recently on YouTube by Penguin Group USA, and then a friend posted a link to it on my Facebook page. The video's description says that:

This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books and produced by Khaki Films Khaki Films. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. We hope you enjoy it (and make sure you watch it up to at least the halfway point, there's a surprise!). Read an interview with the creator of the video on the Penguin Blog: http://bit.ly/futureofpublishing


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Amazon secures deals with two publishers

The latest reports say that Amazon is working to strike deals with publishers before the iPad becomes available on Saturday. According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon has already secured deals with Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins. The new deals are similar to those with Apple which allow the publishers to set e-book prices via the agency pricing model. Amazon is also said to be in advanced discussions with Hachette Book Group and Penguin.

Seton Hill University to give first year students iPads and MacBook laptops

Seton Hill University has announced that it will give each first year student an iPad and a 13-inch Apple MacBook laptop. According to the University’s website, the Apple devices are part of a new initiative called The Griffen Technology Advantage that seeks to “provide students with the best in technology and collaborative learning tools.” An article from The Chronicle, says that students will be charged a fee each semester for this new program which also includes wireless access across campus, increased bandwidth, and training sessions. Faculty will also receive the same devices as the students and will be trained to use the technology.

George Fox University also recently announced that incoming first year students will be able to choose an iPad or MacBook. For the past 20 years, the university has supplied incoming students with computers and this year it has expanded the computing options.