Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Textbook Future: Cheap with Lifetime Updates?

As detailed on CrunchGear, a $49 biology e-textbook is the latest product unveiled by the new Nature Education division of Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Slated to go on sale Sept. 1, the college-level Principles of Biology is actually a web page rather than an app or “traditional” e-book, and features continual content updates with no additional charge to the original purchaser.

“Lifetime access is difficult to picture for many kinds of app-based books, because of how rapidly the underlying technologies and devices will evolve,” said Nature Publishing Group executive Vikram Savkar, “whereas a browser-based solution has a good likelihood, in our opinion, of being accessible decades from now.”

Having the content—which includes quizzes, assessments, and an online gradebook—stored in the cloud means access is available on any device the owner uses, from a tablet to a flip-phone, without any additional setup, as long as they employ the same username and password.

To maximize the usability of the gradebook component, Savkar added that Nature Education plans to integrate its text with most major course management platforms by the end of this year.

Principles of Biology has already been adopted for introductory biology courses at California State University’s Chico, Los Angeles, and Northridge campuses.

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