The Interactive Text Book

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The classical text book has limited interactivity.

Since the digital CD has replaced the analog vinyl record, it is natural to expect that the digital ebook will replace the analog printed book, and this is in fact already happening. But how long will the CD and the ebook last?

The CD has already largely been replaced by iTunes and iTunes is now being replaced by Spotify and The Cloud: You no longer need to store your music yourself in your cd-case or your computer, since it is better handled by The Cloud. With an Internet connection you can listen to your music, at a small monthly fee.

Will the ebook face the same fate? In particular, narrowing the question to the educational text book and learning, what will be the role and form of the text book in the education of tomorrow, in what can be called iducation?

I have met this question when trying to find the proper medium for math education as

  • ebook,
  • Apple iBook
  • or something else?

Both 1 and 2 pose difficulties e.g. in conversion from pdf to ebook formats, and the lack of support of Latex in iBook Author, by Apple announced as a revolution in text books for education.

I have then been led into something else, into the idea of the interactive book as the new ibook which I am now testing as Mathematics Simulation Technology on WordPress. This is what you are now browsing.

The basic features of a ibook, making it different it from a standard ebook or printed book, are

  • an ibook is interactive
  • an ibook is connected to the web.

The idea of a classical book is to capture the mind of the reader and lock it into the book. Although the reader is supposed to be active, the reader cannot directly interact with the book, because the book is has no input window, only a loudspeaker for output.

Realizing that learning basically comes from trial-and-error combined with interactive feed-back, it seems pretty clear that the interactive ibook with feed-back will be the best book for education. The idea is then not to lock in, but to open the minds of the students to input from the web.

The university of today seeks to lock the student into educational programs (to access the money coming with the student), which fits with the classical text book, but not with the ibook.

The idea of iBook Author is to open for authors to introduce interactive multimedia of the form offered on the web by HTML5. One may the ask what iBook can offer which the web cannot?

See also: The Free Open Web-University

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