In our previous posts, we discussed the long journey of the textbook into the digital age — from paper, to digital paper, to content-first.
This journey is not quite over yet. BUT there is now a shared basis for creating truly digitized learning content. It is called “bitmark”.
The open-source standard bitmark is uncompromisingly mobile-first and content-first. bitmark aims to simplify and accelerate the creation, sharing and dissemination of digitized learning content. It is the foundation for the five levels of digitization of learning.
Our (the bitmark Association’s) role is to promote the development and distribution of the standard as…
Being mobile-friendly, interactive, searchable and shareable (see post 4/6), “content-first” textbooks facilitate modern forms of teaching, such as #BlendedLearning.
Content-first also enables entirely new didactic approaches, such as the creation of #SmartBooks, which offer individual study paths based on the learning progress or AI-supported correction suggestions for teachers.
In our forthcoming sixth post (and, for the time being, last post) we will wrap-up the findings from the first five posts.
As we discussed in our last post, “digital paper“ (PDF’s etc.) is not suitable for small screens. It also does not work for interactive learning content, such as quizzes.
The solution is to structure the data in an uncompromising “content-first” (and as part of it “mobile-first”) approach. First, this means breaking down the content of a textbook into small, self-contained “learning bits” suitable for mobile screens and leaving the graphical representation of these bits entirely up to the e-book readers and learning apps. It also means having a single common database to “feed” any application and learning management software (LMS…
Now, this is not news. Many attempts have been made to digitize textbooks.
Why have they failed? So far, most efforts have focused on “squeezing” existing textbooks 1:1 into “digital paper” like PDF (same layout, same structure, same exercises…). While such formats may have their merits on large screens, they cause eye strain on small screens. And mobile devices are what people use today.
An advantage of digital…
In our first post, we discussed some pitfalls of paper-based learning, including the lack of interactivity and its unsuitability for distance learning.
But there is another issue.
Today, the great merit of paper in making knowledge transportable has turned into its opposite: true knowledge is, so to speak, trapped in books. Those who do not have access to books cannot benefit from the “treasure of knowledge ” they contain. As a result, high-quality education is still not within reach for a large part of humanity (UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report).
Again: the continuing popularity of paper is largely due to the lack of a real alternative so far. But more on this in our next posts.
Hard copy textbooks have their perks, no doubt. You can scribble in them, hide notes from your crush and the fat chemistry book is perfect for weight training.
The problem is that paper is a bit of a dead end in our digital world: no interactivity, no content sharing, unsuitable for distance learning, no searching, filtering, tagging…
Why is paper still so popular? Well, it’s probably a question of habit (regardless of deforestation and climate change…). But moreover: there simply hasn’t been a real alternative.
Read more on this in the following stories.