Digital Textbooks: Interactivity and DRM – The two most important aspects

BBC News Scotland runs with the story that Edinburgh Council is pushing for a wider spread of digital textbook adoption in Edinburgh’s schools. It comes some months after several Edinburgh have launched their own digital initiatives, of their own accord.

What’s particularly interesting in this otherwise run-of-the-mill story about digital textbooks increasingly being used in the classroom is its emphasis on interactivity in an app-environment. Both Tynecastle School and Edinburgh Council have drawn attention to the fact that digital textbooks and educational apps as a whole “reduce the need for photocopying” and paper in general. This is a common theme in any discussion about digital publishing, and it draws heated attention from both environmentalists who claim digital device manufacturing itself is more damaging as well as proponents of digitization schemes.

What’s saving paper in the educational space however isn’t so much the digitization of the textbooks themselves, but the interactivity that allows for cloud storage of notes and highlighting, which negates, at least partially, the need for notes on physical paper (Tynecastle are clear they believe pens and paper still have a place in the classroom). Furthermore, interactivity in educational apps and digital textbooks is starting to be less a passing afterthought to the digitized content that used to be in print and more a core part of the learning experience. Language-learning in particular is greatly facilitated by tools that allow recordings of pronounciation to be played back for example and easily accessible video content (compared to the old educational VHS, CDs and DVDs of the past that had to be played on a single TV or computer) can help to clarify potentially tricky topics in a more straightforward manner.

The report on Edinburgh Council’s shifting into a higher gear in its plans for digital education comes just a few days after veteran academic Bookseller announced its plans to launch a digital platform for its range of educational textbooks. Blackwell, much like schools in Edinburgh and YUDU ourselves emphasize interactivity as the key to the puzzle of digital education, and they’re also keenly aware of the importance of DRM. Making it a development priority, it remains to be seen how they’ll balance unobtrusiveness with security, but we’ll wait and see.

Together these two issues form the most important targets facing anyone wanting to sell digital textbooks and truly supplant their print equivalents today.

YUDU offer a range of educational solutions, from multi-platform digital textbook apps and micro-bookstores for digital textbooks to bespoke interactive textbooks developed in iBooks Author. To find out more get in touch.

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