Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Online flex texts may help college students reduce the cost of textbooks; maybe good for high school, especially in AP

The Washington Times has an interesting story on Wednesday, September 2 about textbook pricing, by Karen Goldberg Goff, “Digital texts could turn the page on rising book costs” (link here) for college students and sometimes in high school.

The article discusses an innovation called the flexbook, which is particularly useful in science and math, with a typical example here. The flexbook application presents the material in a variety of panels that helps the student focus on specific concepts and related equations.

It’s easy for me to imagine how this software could be used to present political science concepts, as in my own books.

E-book texts are still pricey, but about half the cost of printed texts.

Textbooks are heavy and expensive partly because of the strict editing requirements and the amount of detail (including illustrations) that they must contain. You physicians, remember your organic chemistry text as a junior in college? Even the lab text (describing all the preps) was humongous.

The flexbook concept assumes that the student will do more homework online. This might run counter to the desires of parents to control family online use, and is most appropriate for students with more maturity, as in AP courses for college credit while in high school; their use presumes a certain level of online maturity among the kids. Just look at the book reviewed in my last post to appreciate the potential concerns.

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