There is a story in the news today with a headline that says “Textbooks are dead.” We disagree.
The quote is from a talk given by Brian Kibby, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education, at the EDUCAUSE 2014 conference this week.
While the article does go on to say that adaptive learning is on the rise, which we certainly do agree with, we strongly disagree that textbooks are dead or even that they are dying. The truth is that textbooks are changing. Sometimes these changes are evolutionary and in rarer cases the changes are quite radical and revolutionary, but to say that they are dead is simply not true. Textbooks, without a doubt, still serve a variety of valuable purposes and help students learn.
Online courses, interactive simulations and video-based interactive lessons and lectures are all well and good, but none of these educational methods and mediums are capable of entirely replacing the textbook. One only has to look at how students use textbooks to know that they are not going to be a thing of the past in our lifetimes.
A primary use of textbooks is to serve as a reference tool. Students not only read textbooks to learn and practice, but they also refer to them as they study and progress through a course. Textbooks, both digital and printed, also serve as a repository for invaluable student generated content – their notes and highlights. Textbooks that contain practice problems and self-assessment opportunities that afford students the chance to practice and apply their growing knowledge are enhanced greatly by new technologies such as adaptive learning. In fact these new technologies breath new life into textbooks, making them more valuable, vibrant and efficacious.
At Lrnr we’re leading the charge to bring adaptive learning technology to textbooks in affordable, practical and powerfully effective ways that amplify the power and relevance of textbooks, changing the way they work and increasing their value to students and to instructors.
Our recent announcement of our partnership with OpenStax College to bring personalized learning to higher education is a timely example of how textbooks remain vital, valuable and relevant.
Long live the textbook!