Forget Heavy Backpacks, the e-Textbook is Here

Textbook publishers saw it coming: an e-textbook revolution is imminent and it will change learning forever, said Osman Rashid, co-founder and CEO of Kno.

The software company based in Silicon Valley currently offers 150,000 textbook titles to be used on a computer or iPad, and they cost for 30 to 50 percent less of the regular price of print version.

And what’s most striking is the interactivity of the content, as graphics become 3D and illustrations with labels (for example, one of a cell which has the labels of all its parts) become quizzes to test the student’s knowledge. 

One particularly attractive feature Rashid demonstrated at DLD was the flashcard feature, which measures the student’s confidence his or her own knowledge.

Journalist Spencer Reiss of Wired asked Rashid why, if people have been talking about this shift in textbooks, it has taken this long.

"User experience has so far been bad, it was not conducive… but now the innovation in education is better because of the tablets", he said, adding that tablets and the iPad have allowed to better usability.

Publishers are really starting to embrace the new model, said Rashid, but the next big step should be taking heavy, print textbooks out of the students’ backpack and putting in a tablet device instead.

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DLD2011 - The Big Picture DLD (Digital-Life-Design) is a global conference network on innovation, digital media, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and investors for crossover conversation and inspiration. Chairmen of DLD are publisher Hubert Burda and serial digital investor Yossi Vardi. DLD has been founded by Stephanie Czerny and Marcel Reichart in 2005.


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