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.

The site uses Google's cookies to provide services and analyze traffic. Your IP address and user agent are shared with Google, along with performance and security statistics to ensure service quality, generate usage statistics, detect abuse and take action.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Penn State Honored for Hybrid Classes

Penn State University is blending online learning with a virtual classroom in its Penn State Video Learning Network. The courses allow students at 20 participating Penn State campuses to engage with professors and other members of the class through videoconferencing.

The program was awarded the 2012 Shirley Davis Award for Excellence in Synchronous Distance Learning from the National University Technology Network.

“It’s about accessibility. It’s about support. It’s about presenting [students] with all the opportunities of a great university like Penn State,” said learning network instructor Jeff Werner in a university promotional video about the program.

A classroom at each location is fitted with video equipment that allows participants to connect with the instructor and interact with students from other campuses. Courses are held at night or on weekends to accommodate adult learners.

The system also provides real-time discussion between students and instructor. There is assigned online coursework to complete, and students are able to contact faculty between each class by e-mail, cellphone, online video chats, and virtual office hours.

“Our mission is to serve Pennsylvania adult learners that need to earn credentials and degrees at their hometown Penn State campus,” said Rosemarie Piccioni, director of the program, in a press release about the award. “Every credit has to count, so our courses run for seven-and-a-half weeks, and credits earned often can be used for a certificate and also applied toward a degree program. We also offer general-education credit courses to help an adult student begin their journey.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Smartphones Help Improve Math Test Scores

Banning cellphone use in the classroom is still common because of the disruptions the devices may cause. Now, the Wireless Reach Initiative has shown that when smartphones are given to low-income students, standardized test scores go up, according to a report from Mashable.

In fact, a program funded by Qualcomm Inc. showed an improvement of 30% on math test scores by freshmen who were issued smartphones at several schools in North Carolina taking part in the Project K-Nect initiative.

Project K-Nect was designed to increase math skills in at-risk secondary students through the use of smartphones. The program has been expanded to students in grades 8-12 in North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio.

“Not everyone has a TV, a PC, or electricity, but we’re approaching the point where everyone can have [Internet] access,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Qualcomm, which provided funds for the project. “The umbrella coverage of these wireless networks has really reached the four corners of the world.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Social Media’s Influence in the Classroom

Professors are becoming more comfortable using social media in the classroom. Although some may still view it as a time waster, others understand the tools available and are making the most of it in their teaching, according to the survey Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Facebook: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media from Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson.

The survey questioned nearly 4,000 teaching faculty from all disciplines in higher education. It’s no surprise younger professors are more apt to use social media, but is interesting that subject area is also a determining factor. Humanities and arts professors reported the highest use rates and those in natural sciences the lowest.

There are, of course, concerns about the integrity of student submissions, in addition to issues of integration with learning management systems, but those are much less worrisome today when compared to a similar survey from 2011.

Video continues to be rated highly by professors. Nearly 34% create their own videos for classroom use and about 40% use video created by their institution. Those numbers jump to 70% and 80%, respectively, when referring to videos provided by education companies and those found online.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Start Planning for Push to Mobile

So your organization has created, or plans to create soon, a stripped-down mini version of your web site to accommodate the tiny screens of mobile devices. That’s not enough, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

The report, Why eBusiness Pros Need a Five-Year Plan, says mobile-optimized web sites should be considered just “a pragmatic starting point.” Consumers will expect more—and soon. Organizations, whether commercial or institutional, should begin planning now to offer more mobile-enabled services and transactions by 2017-18.

As Mobile Marketer points out in its article about Forrester’s report, more people are latching onto smartphones and tablets to help manage many aspects of their personal and professional lives no matter where they are at any given moment. These mobile users want their devices to handle a wide variety of tasks, which means they need more than just simplified web sites.

The article says organizations will have to build their own mobile apps in order to provide the tailored services consumers will need, noting, “Strong mobile-first strategies are likely to involve native apps that can tap into a device’s technologies, as opposed to browser or hybrid apps, which are less able to support different capabilities of mobile phones.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Network Infrastructure Still a Concern for Schools

A recent survey from Enterasys, a network security firm, found that administrators and instructors understand the value of having technology in the classroom. The question is whether the networks schools are using can deliver, according to an article in eSchool News.

The study reported 21% of schools that participated in the study use digital textbooks and 36.5% plan to begin using digital texts within the year. However, just 26% of the schools said they can move to digital with their current network infrastructure.

While 84% reported they could monitor a student’s online activities as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, 27% said it was either impossible or difficult to customize access based on factors such as grade level. In addition, 46% plan to use online assessments as their only form of testing within five years, while 15% said it’s either impossible or difficult with their current infrastructure.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Vote for All-Digital Textbooks

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan created something of a stir in the academic world Oct. 2 when he advocated a rapid move to digital course materials and declared textbooks should go out of print “over the next few years.” It turns out Duncan may have a kindred spirit in Brian Kibby, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

In an e-mail interview with Inside Higher Education, Kibby stressed that “the transition from print to digital can’t happen quickly enough” for educational publishing. He said McGraw-Hill has been digitizing all of its content for a number of years and also has built digital learning systems designed to support and enhance that content.

“The second reason, and the one I’d like to emphasize, is that the type of digital learning experiences we offer really have the potential to improve student performance in a way that print materials simply don’t,” he said.

When the interviewer mentioned his eighth-grade daughter prefers to read from printed pages, Kibby acknowledged that digital devices—while improving—still don’t provide an ideal reading environment. But, he asserted, print materials are intended for linear learning and that’s not how digital materials should or will be used. “We’re talking about totally new, nonlinear ways of learning,” he said.

McGraw-Hill’s goal “is to create digital learning experiences that are radically different from what we have now,” he added. “If we keep doing our job the way we know we can, the way we learn five years from now will look very little like the way we learned five years ago.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bull Market in Online Course Management Services

Helping colleges and universities across the country take their academic programs online has become a growth industry. Now, those start-ups are the target for larger companies to snatch up.

John Wiley & Sons started an October buying spree by paying $220 million for Deltak.edu LLC, which develops and supports online degree and certificate programs.

“The acquisition of Deltak will extend Wiley’s global education trajectory into a high-growth segment of the market and bring additional expertise to the organization in such areas as curriculum design, student recruitment services, and next-generation technology solutions,” said Joseph Heider, senior vice president of global education at Wiley, for an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Blackboard, known for its learning management systems for higher education, followed by announcing it would increase its investments into its own online course-development and management services. Blackboard plans to attract clients with an approach that offers more options from which to choose.

“It’s more of an a la carte approach, where [colleges] can pick and choose capabilities they want and not get into this big, comprehensive, long-term commitment where a lot of them are worried about losing institutional control,” said John Kannapell, vice president of the Blackboard online program management department, in an article in Inside Higher Education.

Pearson Higher Education then joined the fray with the purchase of EmbanetCompass for $650 million. EmbanetCompass, created by the 2010 merger of Embanet and Compass Knowledge Group, is the largest player in the online course-management field.

The purchase follows Pearson’s move to launch a free, cloud-based learning-management system called OpenClass in 2012, and after teaming with software firm Knewton to replace its software packages with new ones that adapt to learners.

“As more and more schools face budget cuts, they’re looking to online education as a way to increase access, achievement, and affordability,” Trace Don Kilburn, CEO of Pearson Learning Solutions, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “We see this as a strong area of growth.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Students on Digital: Keep It Coming

The 2012 Center for Applied Research Undergraduate Technology Survey, an annual study conducted by Educause, shows that the more technology is offered students, the more they want.

There has either been a changing of the guard in higher-ed classrooms or professors are finally warming up to infusing technology—open educational resources, learning management systems, games and simulations, and web-based videos—into their teaching methods.

In 2010, 47% of students reported most of their instructors used technology effectively. That number leaped to 68% this year. Regardless of the reasons, technology is being adopted and students are eating it up, at least for the most part.

Educators may be doing a better job of implementing technology, but they may have to work on teaching students how to us it. A large majority—two-thirds— of students felt they were inadequately prepared to use the technologies, according to the study.

The findings of the survey are based on a representative sample of 10,000 responses from U.S. undergraduates from all types of institutions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

AACC Store Tells Its Story with NSD Video

More than 1,500 college stores took part in the Oct. 4 celebration of National Student Day, which was created to honor students and celebrate the many ways they give back to their campus and community.

The AACC Bookstore, Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD, used the day to recognize student involvement and volunteerism, but also to find out what students want and need from their campus store with a fun event that included free sushi, music, raffles, and giveaways.

This video is just one of the many examples of the NSD celebrations at are available for viewing at www.nationalstudentday.com.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Will MOOCS Create Academic Internet Factories?

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are in the early stages and show plenty of potential. Tech firms such as Coursera are working closely with some of the largest and best-known colleges and universities in the nation, but what happens to the balance of those partnerships if the web courses start to bring in money?

That’s the question University of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson asked in his Inside Higher Education column.

“If the partnership with Coursera works out well, we may soon become dependent on their good will,” he wrote. “We may, in other words, need to take very seriously their thoughts about the kinds of courses we should teach and make available online. At Virginia, and at all the schools that begin teaching online, the distribution companies may come to have a consequential say in the way that professors teach and students learn.”

It could turn into a lot of money, considering the potential of MOOCs to reach hundreds of thousands of students for each class. If there’s money to be made, all the players involved, including colleges and universities that have seen their budgets trimmed drastically over the last 10 years, are going to want to make as much as possible. That could lead to a number of compromises in Edmondson’s estimation.

“There will, in other words, be a constant dialogue between professors and the corporation about what kind of content is going to be admissible,” he wrote. “There will be disagreements and there will be disputes. Some professors may walk away. But in the end, it is not hard to predict who will win the arguments, provided the online courses are capturing significant revenues.”

Edmondson points to big-time college sports, where schools have become “addicted” to the revenue generated by athletics. They could very well fall under the same spell when it comes to money earned through Internet education.

“In not too long we may be speaking of academic Internet factories,” he said. “This is especially distressing, now that some of our best universities have jumped aggressively into the distance learning game.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good Start to Fall Semester for edX

The fall semester is off to a rousing start for edX.

Harvard University, which teamed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to found the nonprofit online education start-up last spring, announced that about 100,000 students signed up for its first free online courses on computer science and an adaptation of the Harvard School of Public Health classes in epidemiology and biostatics.

Free online offerings at MIT and the University of California Berkeley, which joined the project over the summer, are attracting similar interest, according to edX President Anant Agarwal in an article in The Boston Globe. In fact, MIT attracted 155,000 students for a course in circuits and electronics last spring.

The platform uses discussion groups and forums to engage students, who can enroll in as many edX courses they like. Certificates of completion are available to those who show they have mastered the course.

“We view this as an incredible opportunity for us to ask deeper questions about how people learn and how we as a university help people to learn,” Harvard Provost Alan Garber said in The Globe article.

More good news for edX followed as Bloomberg reported that the University of Texas, Austin, plans to spend up to $5 million to join the venture.

“The UT System’s partnership with edX is great news for Texas and exactly the type of effort I hope more schools will consider as we aggressively pursue the goals of improving graduation rates and making a college education more accessible and affordable,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the statement announcing the plan.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Should Printed Textbooks Be Obsolete? Maybe Not.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently told the National Press Club that “textbooks should be obsolete” and replaced with e-readers and multimedia web sites. While an appealing idea, digital materials are still unproven as an effective learning platform, according a New York Times opinion piece by Justin Hollander, assistant professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University.

Hollander wonders if examples such as American cities bringing back streetcar lines after years of dismantling to make room for highways or the way consumers have started buying vinyl records again suggests that “We shouldn’t jump at a new technology simply because it has advantages.”

Hollander points to a study by Tufts colleague Maryanne Wolfe, an expert on the origins of reading and language learning, that looks at the effects of digital reading on learning. The results so far have been mixed. Her concern is that Internet reading could be the kind of distraction that cancels out other benefits from web-based e-learning.

Some of the other benefits of digital learning material can also be called into question. Hollander write that roller backpacks are a solution to the problem of students toting around heavy books. He adds that with all the talk of the cost savings of e-textbooks, very little is said about the price of the device, technical support, or software updates.

It took just two days for Dan Eldridge of TeleRead to respond to Hollander.

“It’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that digital books are ‘still unproven,’” Eldridge says. “But Hollander’s essay makes a good (if clich├ęd and overused) point: When advancements in new technologies lead us to discard the old ways of doing things, we often come to regret it. And while Hollander probably is guilty of making way too much out of a couple of sentences uttered at a press club, the point he makes may eventually lead to a conversation that’s very much worth having.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

QR Codes May Be Fun, But Also Risky

Quick response codes are becoming part of campus life as more students arrive with a mobile device in their pockets. QR codes are fun for students and easy to use for college stores trying to find ways to get information out on products or special events.

The problem is the codes can also be a glaring security weakness.

“A single poisoned link is all it takes to expose an entire organization to a full-scale attack,” said David Maman, chief technology officer and founder of GreenSQL, in an article in Campus Technology.

Users are unable to turn off the browser in a mobile device, making it exposed to malware even when it’s not in use, according to Maman. In addition, malware known as a rootkit circumvents the built-in defenses of the mobile operating system.

“[Responding to a QR code] is akin to responding to electronic solicitations and would have the same risks as responding to an unknown advertising source,” said Scott Gordon, vice president, worldwide marketing, for ForeScout Technologies. “There is a potential to go to a site or invoke a request for an application that appears to be reputable but is not.”

Gordon recommends educating users about the risks, particularly as they apply to mobile devices, and encouraging campus users to report possible threats. He also suggests requiring the use of antivirus software across the campus, instituting network controls to monitor all access, and installing management software to provide data-level protection for faculty devices, along with creating a policy of do’s and don’ts for students to follow with their personal devices.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Boundless Takes on Publishers, Gives Free Content at Try

It’s been a busy year for Boundless Learning. Since its launch in 2011, the ed-tech start-up from Boston dropped “Learning” from its moniker and redesigned its web site to more easily connect students with openly licensed, free educational content created by educators and institutions, according to its web site.

Students can now type in their assigned course textbook and the site will present alternative materials from open ed resources, U.S. government sites, and other independent sites, such as Wikipedia and Encyclopedia of Earth. Boundless is also working on social features for peer-to-peer learning.

“We don’t create content, we curate,” Boundless co-founder and CEO Ariel Diaz told Xconomy.

The other thing on the Boundless to-do list is defend itself from a federal lawsuit filed in March by Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, and Bedford Freeman & Worth Publishing, claiming it is guilty of copyright infringement. For its part, Boundless claims the suit is another instance of big business distracting and delaying innovation.

“They’re trying to protect the profit margin on this dying business,” Diaz said. “Textbook publishers are trying to build bigger levees instead of building a houseboat. They’re just setting themselves up for massive chaos.”

Boundless has raised less than $10 million in venture capital, yet wants to be the place students can find a wide range of content for free which begs the question of who will ultimately pay the bills.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Profs on Facebook? No Way, Say Students

College students practically live in social media. Accounts are free and new enhancements are added all the time. So doesn’t it make sense that professors should use social media to post course materials and communicate with their classes?

It’s a great idea except for one thing: the horrified reaction of students.

“We asked 236 students in two states if they believe there is a use for these sites in the learning process,” stated the research report by Diana L. Haytko, Florida Gulf Coast University, and R. Stephen Parker, Missouri State University, in the Journal of Instructional Pedagogies. “The answer was a definite NO. Students want to keep their social roles and their student roles separate.”

In response to Haytko’s and Parker’s online survey, 73.2% of students rejected the notion of faculty using Facebook to post course content and class messaging and 84.5% felt the same way about Twitter. Even those who were okay with professors employing social media tools thought it ought to be limited to merely communicating reminders and providing links to content elsewhere. Most students, however, expressed sentiments such as this:
“I don’t think it should be; I think that’s for the college student generation to stay connected, not the entire college faculty and staff. Facebook with the older generation has gotten out of hand in my opinion.”
The researchers also asked students whether it was appropriate for faculty to post course content specifically for access on an iPhone. There the students were divided almost 50-50, with most of the negative response stemming from concern that many students don’t own iPhones and wouldn’t want to be required to purchase one. But otherwise many respondents thought it would be convenient to tap into course materials and recorded lectures via phone while on the go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

B&N, Microsoft Partner to Form Nook Media

The strategic partnership between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft is now complete and the new venture will be called Nook Media.

Nook Media will be a B&N subsidiary made up of its digital and college  businesses, backed by a $300 million investment from Microsoft. The partnership will help B&N continue its growth into digital content and allows the company to expand internationally, CEO William Lynch told The Wall Street Journal. Lynch added he expects Nook Media revenues to be $3 billion annually, but no decisions have been made for possible spinoffs.

“There can be no assurance that the review will result in a strategic separation or the creation of a stand-alone public company,” Lynch said. “Barnes & Noble does not intend to comment further regarding the review unless and until a decision is made.”

Nook Media does have one issue to address: The name is already owned by a Swedish developer of online gambling casinos, according to Digital Reader.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Accessibility Still Lacking to NFB

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has accused Educause and Internet2 of ignoring the needs of print-disabled students in e-book pilots in progress on more than 20 campuses across the country this fall. The criticism caught the pilot developers by surprise since they thought they were collaborating with the NFB on the project.

The criticism was leveled, in part, because a review of the original pilot done by Disability Services at the University of Minnesota recommended the school drop out of the program because of its use of PDF formats that wouldn’t work with adaptive technology such as text-to-voice software.

“The initial problem was the way the content is packaged and delivered, but it really [goes] beyond that, to the affordances that are built into the package as well,” said Brad Cohen, associate chief information officer for academic technology at the University of Minnesota.

The NFB criticism is an attempt to pressure organizers to add accessibility requirements into any platform used to deliver e-books, according to NFB President Marc Maurer, who added he would be satisfied to know what accessibility plans will be going forward.

“There has to be a deadline by which time they expect the system to be accessible to blind professors and students,” he said. “It can’t be 25 years from now. A couple of years would suit me. I’d be glad to have it sooner than that.”

Educause and Internet2 claimed in an e-mail to Campus Technology, “Given the rapid change in how technology is deployed—students often bring it rather than campuses providing it—it is critical to experiment with new ways to provide course materials. Inevitably, some of those experiments fall short. However, rejecting experimentation does not solve the problem.”

The tiff could be an opportunity for publishers to become more involved. Mickey Levitan, CEO of Courseload, which provides an e-reading platform for the pilot, said he believes accessibility is a “shared interest” between tech firms and publishers.

“These are very complex issues that will have to be resolved with collaboration of all the key parties,” he said. “I don’t think that this is going to fall unduly on any one of those groups, but its clear that its going to have to be a collaborative multipronged effort if we’re going to make progress possible.”

Monday, October 8, 2012

Online Schools Getting Mixed Reviews

As the popularity of online public schools grows, so does concern about the quality of education students are receiving.  Supporters see the programs as innovative and affordable, while public officials in a number of states are reporting poor grades and worse graduation rates.

New applications for online schools in Maine, New Jersey, and North Carolina are being denied, according to a Yahoo! News report, while the auditor general of Pennsylvania claims online schools in his state are being overpaid by at least $105 million per year. In addition, state education officials in Florida have accused virtual schools of hiring uncertified teachers and an Ohio study reports that nearly every online school in that state ranks below average for student academic growth.

Cyber-school officials note their students are often behind traditional students and need time to catch up. A recent study by the University of Arkansas showed steady improvement for students who remained in online schools for several years.

However, a Stanford report found online students in Pennsylvania made “significantly smaller gains in reading and math” than traditional public school students. At the same time, the first virtual school in Tennessee had the lowest possible score for student growth.

“I’m not closing the door on it, but we have to do it right,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wager, who has held public hearings on virtual schools in New Jersey.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Moving Ahead with Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning has educators thinking about how classrooms are organized. For example, Arizona has an initiative, called Move on When Ready, that allows high-achieving students to graduate after their sophomore year if they demonstrate they can perform at a college-ready level.

Jeff Livingston, senior vice president of college and career readiness at McGraw-Hill, added to the conversation in an interview with GigaOM, where he suggested that educators will be rethinking organizing K-12 classes by age.

“What does it mean to be a ninth grader or 10th grader beyond a certain age?” Livingston said. “It doesn’t make sense that all the 15-year-olds are in this grade and all the 16-year-olds are in that grade. It should be where your interests, your skills, and your mastery of certain concepts take you.”

Mixed-aged classrooms have been around since one-room schoolhouse days, while the Khan Academy and Western Governors University are putting learning based on competency into practice. Massive open online courses are also part of the picture, providing high school students the opportunity to move ahead of their classroom coursework through college-level courses.

The technology is there to make it happen, or soon will be. The question is whether teachers, school administrators, and parents are ready for the change. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Provincial Policy: No Fee to Access Digital Tests

A new provincewide policy involving online course materials tripped up at least one university in Ontario, Canada, this fall. The University of Windsor is now refunding roughly $210,000 to 3,000 students who purchased access codes.

According to a report in The Windsor Star, the university inadvertently charged students for the codes, which enabled them to go online to complete assignments, quizzes, and/or exams required as part of their course grade. That’s a no-no, says the Ministry of Colleges, Training, and Universities.

As Assistant Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor explains in a July 2011 memo, the ministry’s new policy, which went into effect this fall, is that schools are responsible for picking up the cost of mandatory assignment and examination materials, including those in digital formats. The schools cannot charge students extra to access those materials if the students must fill them out for course credit. Most of the affected University of Windsor students, primarily in introductory courses, bought access codes bundled with a new textbook.

The university is trying to determine whether it can afford to cover the cost of those online assignments and tests from now on.

The ministry’s policy isn’t intended to prohibit universities from charging for other digital course materials.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Digital Content Report Draws Line in the Sand

A new report, Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age, from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) urges states and school districts to “commit to beginning the shift from print to digital instructional materials” no later than the 2017-18 academic year.

Otherwise, the report says, teachers and pupils will be stuck in another funding cycle resulting in the acquisition of out-of-date content and inflexible print formats. It could be another decade before they’d have the monies to replace print with digital materials.

Some state legislatures are already on board, such as Florida, which wants schools to substitute electronic materials for at least half their books by 2015. However, some educators think students aren’t ready for such a rapid move. Tampa Bay Online reported on the problems one district had with digital books, including login difficulties and students with limited or no access to computers at home.

Those are the kind of wrinkles schools will have to iron out. SETDA’s report points to seven factors to address: sustainable funding for devices, robust Internet connectivity, up-to-date policies and practices, prepared educators, intellectual property and reuse rights, quality control and usability, and state and local leadership buy-in.

SETDA’s report recommends that schools establish and communicate “a clear vision for the use of digital and open content,” which includes chucking any regulations or policies that get in the way and finding dollars to ensure adequate classroom technologies.

The report also calls on government, education, and business to work together on “alternative, flexible models” for the development and dissemination of digital content.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

University Presses Give Short-Form E-Books a Try

Short-form e-book programs have been attracting attention among university presses as a way to provide in-depth, quality content in a brief format. Princeton, following the lead of Amazon’s Kindle Singles format, launched Princeton Shorts last year, with Stanford and the University of North Carolina presses getting into the business this past spring.

It’s hoped the shorter works will hook readers into buying the original, much longer version. The titles could also be a useful format in course adoptions where instructors want to assign chapter-length reading material. Or it may show how university presses can stay ahead of the technological curve, according to a post by the American Association of University Presses.

While it’s still too early tell, short-form e-books have so far not stopped people from buying the complete work. at least not at Princeton.

“The paperback of [best-selling economics book This Time is Different] has been selling well and steadily since its release not long before the release of the short,” said Rob Tempio, editor in charge of the Princeton Shorts project. “Did sales of the Short drive that? Doubtful. Did sales of the Short detract from the sales of that? Almost certainly not.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Course Manager App Does Its Job Well

There are many things the Course Manager app from iTunes U does not do. It does not integrate with learning management systems. There are no discussion boards or blogs. There are no assessments or gradebooks. Plus, it only works on Apple devices.

On the other hand, Joshua Kim reports in his Inside Higher Education blog that it looks good and runs well. He also points out that it’s a curricular content-consumption experience that should be viewed as a supplement to a learning management system.

“Mostly, the whole experience on the iTunes U app just feels smooth and polished,” Kim wrote. “Content is easy to find, everything opens up quickly, and everything is logical and seamless.”

In an earlier post, Kim suggested curriculum content consumption supports the way students learn and that because it’s so easy to use, the iTunes U app should not be ignored.

“The fact that Course Manager and iTunes U is free to use, works with all sorts of text documents, handles video beautifully, allows for easy content downloading (hence offline viewing), and works great on an iPhone should make the incumbent coursepack platform providers take notice,” he wrote. “The iTunes U app is a significant threat to their business models.”