Borders forced to liquidate, close all stores — from the WSJ by Mike Spector and Jeff Trachtenberg

Also see:


From DSC:
Another example — like Blockbuster — of a company who underestimated the disruptive power of technology.

Textbook rental: Web-rejuvenation rocks post-secondary market — from MDR/EdNetInsight by Nelson Heller, President, EdNET, MDR


The Rental Phenomenon
In the past two years, the post-secondary textbook rental market has exploded. Driven by the outcry over book prices, federal legislation, readily available pricing information on the Internet, and sophisticated web-based rental management platforms, old and new competitors are disrupting the $10 billion college textbook business. Book rental isn’t really a new phenomenon—a few college stores have been renting books since the Civil War. The National Association of College Stores (NACS) proclaimed fall 2010 as the “Year of the Rental.” Players include long-timers like Follett and Budgetext, institutional stores and fast-growing start-ups. BookRenter, started in 2008, netted $40 million from investors in a funding round this past February. Chegg, started in 2007, has raised $200+ million in venture capital and attracted senior management from Yahoo and Netflix. The same drivers are growing trade in used books, eBooks, and online instructional content. Rental is also driving new business models for sourcing and distributing educational materials that may carry the industry forward into digital. Having book inventory isn’t necessarily required—at least one high-flying firm, BookRenter, exists mainly as an online marketplace. Read on to see how this change in distribution is impacting the higher education market. Next month we’ll look at what all this means for K-12.

New textbook paradigm – In which I get it — from The Education Business Blog by Lee Wilson


The role of textbooks in a rapidly digitizing world is an open question. The publishing industry needs to develop a new paradigm for commercially produced instructional materials or it faces extinction.

These and many more questions haunt the dreams of educational publishing professionals.

Now, thanks to the folks at Nature (a division of MacMillan) and their new eTextbook Principles of Biology, I glimpse a promising path forward. As is so often the case with paradigm shifts once it “clicks” in your head it is so simple that you wonder that you didn’t get it earlier.
Better late than never I guess.

The product itself is innovative but from what I can tell not groundbreaking. It won’t ship until September but from the description it sounds similar to Our Choice or Roma, excellent examples of cutting edge iPad publishing for non-fiction.

Would you like a $49 electronic college textbook with lifetime updates? — from by Scott Merrill

From DSC:
I was just talking about this idea earlier today at lunch. Why can’t a textbook be like/look like/act like/and be distributed more along the lines of an app from an online app store than a static, physical textbook? Why can’t someone purchase a lifetime stream of updates? Or at least an annual agreement for such a stream of updates for the next 12 months? Alternatively, perhaps after purchasing the original book, a person could opt in for an upgrade at some point (much life software)?

Also see:


[Concept] The new “textbook”: A multi-layered approach — from Daniel S. Christian
I’ve been thinking recently about new approaches to relaying — and engaging with — content in a “textbook”.

For a physical textbook

When opening up a physical textbook to a particular page, QR-like codes would be printed on the physical pages of the textbook.  With the advent of augmented reality, such a mechanism would open up some new possibilities to interact with content for that page. For example, some overall characteristics about this new, layered approach:

  • Augmented reality could reveal multiple layers of information:
    • From the author/subject matter expert as well as the publisher’s instructional design team
      • Main points highlighted
      • Pointers that may help with metacognition, such as potential mnemonics that might be helpful in moving something into long-term memory
      • Studying strategies
    • A layer that the professor or teacher could edit
      • Main points highlighted
      • Pointers that may help with metacognition, such as potential mnemonics that might be helpful in moving something into long-term memory
      • Studying strategies
    • A layer for the students to comment on/annotate that page
    • A layer for other students’ comments



For an electronic-based textbook

  • The interface would allow for such layers to be visible or not — much like Google’s Body Browser application
  • For example, in this graphic, comments from the SME and/or ID are highlighted on top of the normal text:





Advantages of this concept/model:

  • Ties physical into virtual world
  • We could economically update information (i.e. opens up streams of content)
  • Integrates social learning
  • Allows SMEs, IDs, faculty members to further comment/add to content as new information becomes available
  • Instructors could highlight the key points they want to stress
  • Many of the layers could offer items that might help with students’ meta-cognitive processes (i.e. to help them learn the content and move the content into long-term memory)
  • One could envision the textbook being converted into something more akin to an app in an online-based store — with notifications of updates that could be constantly pushed out


Addendum (5/26):


6 companies aiming to digitize the textbook industry — from by Sarah Kessler


Pearson & McGraw-Hill make multi-million dollar investment in Inkling — from Kirsten Winkler

It seems as if the latest study from Xplana in which they predict that the tipping point for digital textbooks is as near as 2015 has opened up the wallets of two major publishers for an undisclosed “multi million Dollar” investment.

Inkling, the maker of the iPad application and platform which delivers enhanced and engaging textbooks, leaving the “flat, PDF-based digital textbooks” behind is the beneficiary and it could give the startup a competitive edge over the well funded competitor the Kno.

But as money is not everything Inkling, Pearson and McGraw-Hill also made some significant content commitments, boosting the number of titles available on the Inkling platform…


Also see:

Bootstrapped Publishing – DIY FTW — from


What's the best way to deal with ever-changing streams of content? When information has shrinking half-lives?

From DSC:
After looking at some items concerning Connectivism*, I’ve been reflecting upon the following questions:

  • What’s the best way for us to dip our feet into the constantly moving streams of content?
    (No matter the topic or discipline, the streams continue to flow.)
  • What’s the optimal setup for K-12 based “courses”?
  • What’s the optimal setup for “courses” within higher education?
  • How should L&D departments deal with this phenomenon?
  • How do publishers and textbook authors want to address this situation?

Thinking of Gonzalez (2004; as cited in Siemens (2005)) description of the challenges of rapidly diminishing knowledge life:

“One of the most persuasive factors is the shrinking half-life of knowledge. The “half-life of knowledge” is the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete. Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months according to the American Society of Training and Documentation (ASTD). To combat the shrinking half-life of knowledge, organizations have been forced to develop new methods of deploying instruction.”

Stephen Downes addresses this and points to a possible solution to this phenomenon in his presentation from 3/15/11 entitled “Educational Projection: Supporting Distributed Learning Online.”



I need to put more thought into this, but wanted to throw this question out there…more later…



* From DSC: Some of the items I looked at regarding Connectivism — some directly related, others indirectly-related — were:

Siemens, G.  (2005).  Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.  Retrieved from

Downes, S.  (2005).  An introduction to connective knowledge.  Retrieved from http://www.  downes.  ca/post/33034.  Downes noted that this was published in Hug, Theo (ed.  ) (2007): Media, knowledge & education – exploring new spaces, relations and dynamics in digital media ecologies.  Proceedings of the International Conference held on June 25-26, 2007.  November 27, 2007.

Kop, R.  & Hill, A.  (2008).  Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, v9 n3 p1-13 Oct 2008.

Tracey, R.  (2009). Instructivism, constructivism or connectivism? Training & Development in Australia, December, 2009. p08-09, 2p.  Retrieved from EBSCOhost. ISSN 0310-4664.

Kerr, B.  (2007).  A challenge to connectivism.  Retrieved at http://learningevolves.  wikispaces.  com/kerr.

Sims, R.  (2008).  Rethinking (e)learning: A manifesto for connected generations.  Distance Education Vol.  29, No.  2, August 2008, 153–164.  ISSN 0158-7919 print/ISSN 1475-0198 online.  DOI: 10.  1080/01587910802154954

Lisa Dawley.   (2009).  Social network knowledge construction: emerging virtual world pedagogy.  On the Horizon, 17(2), 109-121.   Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 1880656431).

Hargadon, S.  (2011).  Ugh.  Classic politics now extends to social networking in education.  Retrieved from http://www.  stevehargadon.  com/2011/03/ugh-classic-politics-now-extends-to.  html.

Cross, J.  (2001).  Crowd-inspired innovation.  Retrieved from

Rogers-Estable, M..  (2009).  Web 2.0 and distance education: Tools and techniques.  Distance Learning, 6(4), 55-60.  Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 2017059921).

Marrotte-Newman, S..  (2009).  Why virtual schools exist and understanding their culture.  Distance Learning, 6(4), 31-35.  Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 2017059881).

Hilton, J., Graham, C., Rich, P., & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance.  Distance Education, 31(1), 77-92.  Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 2074810921).

Attwell, G. (2010). Personal learning environments and Vygotsky. Retrieved from

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7 things you should know about open textbook publishing — from Educause, March 2011, by Judy Baker (Foothill College) and Jacky Hood (Foothill College)

When textbooks and social media collide — by Bridget McCrea
A professor at a Christian liberal arts college in Michigan puts textbooks together with social networking to get students jazzed about historical events.

Right around the time that the term “social networking” was starting to roll off the tongues of school administrators and teachers, Christian Spielvogel was already deep in the throes of a project that would combine the next concept with traditional textbooks.

The year was 2007, and Spielvogel, now an associate professor of communication at Hope College in Holland, MI, was experimenting with the idea of implementing gaming and computer simulations while on sabbatical at the University of Virginia. Having conducted intensive research into the public memory of the Civil War period, Spielvogel wanted to “un-romanticize” public perception of the conflict and create a more realistic, engaging, and even risky learning experience for high school and college students.

Using the University of Virginia’s Valley of the Shadow digital archive as a guide–and funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities for financial support–Spielvogel developed an online reenactment and multiplayer role-playing simulation that takes place during the American Civil War.

Little did Spielvogel know at the time, but his creation would become an early example of how computer gaming can be successfully combined with education. “At the time, there had already been some efforts made to develop games and simulations with most of them based on single-player models,” said Spielvogel, “but the whole idea of a multiplayer experience that allowed a group to become involved in the game and interact online was still pretty new.”

Get connected to the online learning culture — from


Online teacher Holly Mortimer working from home


Professional Development: Starter Kit for Teaching Online
Get expert advice on how you can get started as an online educator.

Making the Case for Open-Source Textbooks
Futurist David Thornburg on why open-source textbooks have the advantage of being free of cost and provide greater value to the users.

Beyond Paper and Pencil
Technology expert Ben Johnson wonders how learning — and schools — would change if teachers stopped using paper.

Who needs textbooks? — from
How Washington State is redesigning textbooks for the digital age.

Who needs textbooks? How Washington State is redesigning textbooks for the digital age.

Jessie Sellers, a student at Tacoma Community College in Washington state, was puzzled when he logged onto his school’s website last December to figure out which book he needed for his upcoming English class. Whereas for all his previous courses, the 24-year-old education major could simply click on a link to view the name of the required textbook, this time there were no books listed at all. It was no mistake: thanks to an ambitious pilot program aimed at reducing the cost of textbooks at public colleges, Sellers and hundreds of other students across the state won’t have to buy textbooks for more than three dozen courses offered this winter.

Washington’s Open Course Library is the largest state-funded effort in the nation to make core college course materials available on the Web for $30 or less per class. Financed with $750,000 from the state of Washington and a matching grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the goal isn’t just to reduce student costs, says program architect Cable Green. It’s also to create engaging, interactive learning materials that will help improve course completion rates. By the time the project is completed in 2012, digitized textbook equivalents for some 81 high-enrollment classes will be available online for the more than 400,000 students enrolled in Washington’s network of community and technical colleges. Even better, the materials can be shared across the globe, largely for free, because they will be published in an open format that avoids the most onerous licensing restrictions. To keep costs at a minimum, the teachers developing the materials are relying primarily on either existing material in the public domain or embarking on the painstaking task of developing materials from scratch.

© 2021 | Daniel Christian