February 22, 2010
A new electronic textbook introduced today will allow instructors to modify content, and students will be given the option of purchasing the revised book.
The software, called DynamicBooks, was released today by Macmillan Publishers. It allows professors to reorganize, delete and rewrite chapters and paragraphs, upload course syllabuses, notes, videos, pictures and graphs--all without consulting the original authors or publisher.
"Basically they will go online, log on to the authoring tool, have the content right there and make whatever changes they want," said Brian Napack, president of Macmillan, who was quoted by The New York Times. "And we don't even look at it."
Material revised or added by instructors will be highlighted and attributed to the professor to clarify that it's not part of the original text. Moreover, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that professors who customize textbooks will have the chance to earn some extra money: Instructors who revise the material will earn a dollar for every copy that students buy.
The Times reports that professors who tested DynamicBooks liked the idea of being able to customize a textbook. "There's almost always some piece here or some piece there that a faculty person would have rather done differently," said Todd Ruskell, senior lecturer in physics at the Colorado School of Mines, who was interviewed by the Times.
The electronic books will also be available for substantially lower prices than traditional books; most of the 20 textbooks in the pilot version of DynamicBooks will cost less than half the price of the printed versions. Students will be able to purchase the e-books on the company's Web site and in college bookstores in August, and the texts will be accessible on laptops and iPhones.
"Most college students don't read textbooks anymore," explained Charles Grisham, professor of chemistry at the University of Virginia, who was quoted in a press release. "Students jump from point to point as they do on the Internet. It's also safe to say that no textbook has completely matched every instructor's syllabus. DynamicBooks offers instructors and authors a better way to convey content that is more relevant and creative-minded, and that mirrors the always interactive environment in which students live."
Compiled By CityTownInfo.com Staff