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Gary's Newsletter 373: Interactive Textbooks

Posted by Gary R Collins on March 3, 2010 Comments 0

INTERACTIVE TEXTBOOKS

Big changes are here if you are a student who reads textbooks, a professor who assigns them, or an author who writes (or wants to write) almost any kind of book. A February 22, 2010 New York Times article describes "textbooks that professors can rewrite digitally." Already it is possible to buy e-book or "print on demand" editions of textbooks that are constantly updated because writers can add or change content at any time. Fewer will be the appearance of new print editions every few years; new editions now can appear as ongoing updates. And with increasing frequency books are becoming interactive. Readers can connect digitally with other readers and with the author(s) at any time. Some of my academic friends say this will not happen but it already is happening with books and even with professional journals.

When I read a new book I am interested in the content but equally interested in the ways in which the material is communicated. Last week's letter described the content in Chip and Dan Heath's book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. But look at the format. This illustrates some of the emerging changes in publishing that future authors will not be able to ignore. The authors of Switch:

  • Tell a lot of stories
  • Use examples that easily relate to readers
  • Use imagery that connects (such as "The rider and the elephant" to illustrate left brain and right brain influences on change)
  • Cite numerous research studies that are described in understandable language
  • Reinforce their ideas repeatedly through the book
  • Provide a one-page downloadable summary, easy to carry in your pocket
  • Accompany the book with a website.
  • Provide short podcasts that apply the book's principles
  • Give user's guides (maybe similar to the old study guides) that assist in applying the book's content.

Sadly the book is not accompanied by a blog that lets readers respond. Surely that will be more frequent in the future. I tried this in this website and blog, designed to accompany my coaching book,

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© 2014 Gary R. Collins, PhD.
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