Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin
In his excellent book New Physical Ideas Are Here Needed, Art Bardige posits a view of textbooks and pedagogical media that deeply resonates with our mission at Exprima Media.
“Obesity in both people and in textbooks is an insidious thing…and getting rid of that weight is very, very difficult.”
Our obese textbooks are overeating at an all-you-can eat buffet of competitive market forces and ever diversifying instructor and institutional demands. The result – overlarge and very expensive disposable books. From my experience as a college instructor, we routinely could not cover at least 30% of what was in the anthropology textbooks that were available. Students were rightly incensed (or at least cynical) – they spent $80+ on a bundle of content they did not entirely need and that had low resale value and no lasting authority.
So, can we build a better textbook? Art Bardige’s response is most compelling: No. For the style of teaching and learning required in today’s colleges and universities, the 20th century method of pedagogical content delivery – textbook – is essentially insufficient. In Mr. Bardige’s words:
“The textbook cannot be significantly improved upon. [It] cannot be rewritten or reshaped into a better form. New curriculum ideas…cannot be done in this old technology. They will not work with the broad spectrum of students we have today. The textbook cannot be changed, and it does not work today. We need a new technology of education if we are to significantly improve what we do.” [emphasis added].
The large textbook publishers are in possession of the greatest collection of pedagogical content ever assembled. And this is their opportunity to use these assets to craft compelling, effective, and joyful educational experiences. Delivering content via web and native mobile applications can actually liberate these publishers from simply ‘delivering content’. They can now graduate to providing powerful, outcomes-based, interactive and assessable contexts for teaching and learning. The 200 year old textbook content delivery method is facing an evolutionary moment. The technology is ready and so are the students.
We strongly advocate that these publishers partner with experienced user-centered interaction designers to make this happen. Interaction designers have tried-and-true methods and protocols for generating effective experiences. These methods, combined with educational publisher’s content and subject matter experts, will usher in the future of education.
I’ll give the final word to Mr. Bardige:
“We have a great and exciting educational future ahead of us, one that can enable our children and our children’s children to achieve their dreams…We have for so long lived with such a limited technology of education that it may be hard for many of us to imagine the capability of a new educational technology to achieve what may seem like an impossible dream. When Star Trek first appeared on TV 40 years ago, the handheld communicator may well have been the most interesting and indeed exciting 23rd century invention. Imagine carrying a small object in your pocket that enabled you to communicate with anyone, to take sensor readings of all kinds of things, to know where you were at all times, and to connect you to a “central computer” which contained all of human knowledge. Today, our children carry around such devices. They enable them to talk to anyone, to know where they are, to play games, to take pictures, to record voices, and even to connect to the great Web of almost all human knowledge. Let your imagination see in our new technology of education the potential for this great
new educational future to actually happen.”