The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

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.”

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