Archive for the ‘Future of Texts’ Category

Free tech books this month (Feb) from PACKT Publishing

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015


The catch is you don’t know the title is until the release day.


Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Look after your students – consider OER

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

“On one hand, faculty see open resources as just as good — if not better — than the products produced by traditional publishers. On the other, few faculty members have actually heard about OER.”

“The OER movement has sprung up in response to the rising cost of higher education, and aims to curb one of the additional fees that sometimes take students by surprise once they make it to campus — namely textbook prices. A study published this January, for example, found nearly half of surveyed students chose their courses based on textbook prices, and some simply avoided courses with expensive course materials.

Yet textbook costs hardly register among faculty members. Only 2.7 percent of the surveyed faculty named it the most important criterion for selecting teaching resources, coming in behind such factors as wide adoption, faculty ratings and learning management system support.”

If you’re a Monash person and don’t know where to start contact me and I’ll point you at a few resources.

Open Education Resources – why you should use them

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

If you want to know why you should be considering OER (and you definitely should) have a look at this one page article on the Campus Technology site

6 Arguments for OER (and 1 Against)

Here’s a quick summary

  • its cheaper for students
  • it improves emrollemnts
  • no publisher forced textbook updates
  • ability personalized/customize texts and resources

But – its takes more time.

eTexts ready or not?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

“In a trend occurring in multiple colleges across the country, students are saying ‘no’ to eBooks, due poor ease-of-use, limited funds for eReaders, and lack of available resources.”

eTexts are not in the best interest of big publishers.  The hit they would take from digital piracy could be devastating.   As a result, their products aren’t as user friendly as they could be, the DRM hurdles are too high and there is no significant cost saving for the students.  Various studies have found cost and ease of use to be the main factors when students are given a choice of media.

As a consequence, in my opinion, any article commenting on eTexts and acceptance that only refers to products from big publishers can be discounted without further thought.

The real issue whether the inconvenience associated eTexts is still a significant barrier when the product is free and freely accessible, compared to publishers texts.  I suspect the answer is so obvious that people can’t get research approval to study it.

There is quite a bit of research around  showing that students often prefer cheap printed texts to free online versions, although I can’t find any mention of what the threshold price may be.  A free etext coupled with a cheap ‘print on demand’ deal from your university could be a win-win.

Also of interest is this research from Heather Ruetschlin Schugar, associate professor at West Chester University.

“Schugars reported the results of a study in which they asked middle school students to read either traditional printed books, or e-books on iPads. The students’ reading comprehension, the researchers found, was higher when they read conventional books. In a second study looking at students’ use of e-books created with Apple’s iBooks Author software, the Schugars discovered that the young readers often skipped over the text altogether, engaging instead with the books’ interactive visual features.”

This only refers to primary school kids and the products for this market tend to be more like click and reveal games rather than text based books.  The effect doesn’t seem to be as significant in Higher Ed but as we see wider adoption we may get more detail.

More than just free eTexts from

Monday, August 26th, 2013

My previous post on free eTexts linked to an article about 11 providers,  one of those was the Saylor Foundation.    Well they have have gone one step further and opened their media library, so it’s not just eTexts now.


“Its online Media Library, built on the open source DSpace repository platform, provides a growing list of about 6,000 total resources, including 3,000 open educational resources, 1,300 videos, 124 full-length textbooks, and 2,500 articles.”

More free eTexts than you can poke a stick at

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

The Price is Right: 11 Excellent Sites for Free Digital Textbooks

In the past I’ve mentioned a few sources for free eTexts including Bookboon and OpenStax, well here is a list that contains them and many more.

I may re-post this link before the beginning of each semester because it’s about time we started taking this more seriously.  Text books cost a fortune and according to this report this why most students don’t buy them.

“In the United States, over 75% of students decide not to buy the textbooks their classes require, in large part because students find textbooks too expensive and are discouraged by the simple fact that quite often, only a few chapters from the books are needed for study.”

I know it’s easier to just fall in line with the major publishers, but how about we get the ball rolling by using eTexts as the secondary resources or just specific chapters from eTexts, it’s not like there’s a cost attached.

Id still like to see a curated review site that breaks down all free offerings by subject, so if you know of one, drop me a line.

Some more e-text research – H.E. experience with a commercial provider

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

It’s important to note that this research is from a trial with a commercial publisher using that publishers distribution model not free or creative commons e-texts.

Here are a couple of items from the executive summary.

“Institutional pilot coordinators were cautious about whether widespread implementation of this model of an independent e-reader platform solution delivering publisher content would generate savings for students.”

“Students appreciated the greater portability of e-textbooks and the fact that their textbooks were more conveniently available. However, students’ frustrations using their devices to access e-textbooks outweighed their appreciation. The segregation of content in a textbook platform system from the learning management system as well as from students’ primary devices was inconvenient and frustrating to many students”

It also highlighted the need for staff PD and noted a correlation between staff engagement in the program and positive learning outcomes reported by students (a generic statement you can add to any teaching activity).
It would be interesting to see the differences if the trial was a supported implementation of free e-texts and OERs.

See the Executive summary here,

eTexts – Are students ready?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The argument used to be despite the rise of digital e-readers, like the Sony, Kobo and Kindle, that students wanted paper texts not e-texts

The increasing acceptance of the ipad started to move opinion, which increased as Apple targeted schools and facilitated deals with publishers and new resource developers.  Replacing 10 kilos of books with one small device is a compelling argument for change.  At the same time, smart phones were getting larger (and smarter) making them more useful as interactive devices compared to earlier ‘killer’ devices like the original Blackberry.

This bit of recent research shows

  • “E-textbook use showed a 16 percent increase over the 2011 survey, with 79 percent of respondents saying they had used one and 66 percent saying they use one frequently; and
  • When asked about e-text adoption over the next decade, 17 percent of those surveyed said they believed only electronic texts would be used in 10 years, 55 percent said they would be more commonly used than print, and only seven percent said print textbooks would still be dominant.”

As with all research, I’d like to know a bit more about how the respondents were recruited and what the participation rate was, particularly given that it was commissioned by company dealing in digital education resources.

A crucial question not apparently asked was, whether the resources they were using were free or paid, and how much influence this had one their choice (actually, did they have a choice?).

Still, it gels with what I’m seeing around me.

Of course a major road block is finding the right resource, particularly if you’re looking at free or low cost options.  It’s still easier for academics in our research focused institutions to deal directly with 2 or 3 publishers (even if that costs students more) than scour the internet smorgasbord for suitable resources.

Another interesting result was,

“Among students who told researchers they don’t always complete assigned readings before class, 53 percent said they would be more likely to do so if the material was available on mobile devices, a seven percent increase as compared to the 2011 survey;”

I think this fits with the increasing success of Blended/Flipped teaching models.

So we’re not on the slopes yet, but we can see the snow.

More free etexts – OpenStax (peer reviewed)

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Here’s another provider of free etexts.

“OpenStax College offers students free textbooks that meet scope and sequence requirements for most courses. These are peer-reviewed texts written by professional content developers.   Adopt a book today for a turnkey classroom solution or modify it to suit your teaching approach.

Free online and low-cost in print, OpenStax College books are built for today’s student budgets.”

You also have the option of customizing your own version.  More info here.