Records of textbooks date back to ancient Greece, Rome, China, India and Egypt. In these days (before the printing press), books were rare and expensive to make and as such, textbooks were used by teachers to impart knowledge to students. Since students could not afford their own textbooks, teachers would stand in front of the class and read from the textbook while the students copied down the information.
Sadly, not much has changed. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century did make it possible to provide a textbook to each student, but the lectures remained. Some of the less imaginative educators still read directly from the textbook as students read along.
Digital textbooks are changing this.
No longer are teachers needed to impart knowledge to students. The wide-spread availability of books, and now the internet have led to a change in the way information is delivered. Instead of the teacher being the source of all knowledge, it is now enough that the teacher is there to guide students on their quest for knowledge. Teachers don’t need to have all the answers. Instead, they must be available and willing to point students in the direction of the information they are looking for.
Digital textbooks provide students access to rich resources including videos, images, audio clips and links to additional information. Instead of possessing all the knowledge in one place, digital textbooks encourage students to look beyond the pages of the book for additional information.
Additionally, while printed textbooks quickly become outdated, digital textbooks can be updated as needed to provide the most current information available to students. For example, textbooks used today that were adopted in 2005 do not contain information about the downgrade of Pluto from a planet to dwarf planet in 2006. If digital textbooks were in use instead, this information could have been quickly updated by the publisher without having to replace the entire set of textbooks used by a school.
Managing Digital Textbooks
As more schools move towards digital textbooks, they will need a way to distribute them to students as well as a way to ensure each copy is returned at the end of the year so that they are available to the next set of students. The MediaCAST Mobile Learning Content Manager solves these problems. With the click of a button, teachers are able to distribute digital content to an entire class worth of devices simultaneously. Expiration dates ensure digital textbooks, and other digital content, are returned automatically once students no longer need them. And, because the Mobile Learning Content Manager downloads a version of the material directly onto the device, digital textbooks can be accessed without internet access – meaning students can read their textbook on the bus or at home.