Textbooks meet web 2.0

In a tremendously insightful post, educational consultant Lee Wilson recommends ten strategies that publishers should consider to harness the power of web 2.0 (and to preserve their businesses I might add).

As these tools become more and more integral to educators, textbook(and reference book) publishers will have to transform themselves into more accessible media.

Some of Lee’s suggestions for ways textbook providers can incorporate web 2.0 thinking :

Network your learners – Often we treat collaboration as cheating – but in a world of Facebook and Twitter we have no choice but to harness it. Encourage people working on the same problem to find each other through virtual study groups, student written FAQs, and peer-tutoring. Imagine a system that could help students working on the same problem all over the world find each other on any given evening.

He even suggests the idea of incorporating “guilds” from the gaming world–groups of students who work with each other through the textbooks’ site to solve problems.  Imagine how much more motivating that would be to students than reading the typical print textbook.

Other innovative suggestions:

Build RSS into your products – Proactively deliver a steady stream of new content to users.

Teachers and librarians are extremely busy.  Wouldn’t it be excellent if textbook or reference publishers offered RSS feeds that updated the textbook constantly and kept you in touch with the latest resources?  

And my favorite idea from the article:

Build a two way street – . . . . Allow students and teachers to send you resources that they create or find as they work with your materials. Reward and recognize them for this – make it a competition and you will harness the power of user generated content.

Just thinking about a textbook service that invited students to add/generate content to place on their textbook site is fascinating.  What about reference books or fictional novels inviting kids to do the same thing?

Lee’s whole series on managing information overload is fascinating, and has some really out of the box thinking–like we shouldn’t “store” sites we might need later because it’s so easy to look everything up when we need it, etc.   Well worth the read.

(I do have to mention –Lee is a now a parent at our campus and is a new member of our technology committee.)

One thought on “Textbooks meet web 2.0

  1. The user generated content is an issue that we’ll be talking about on It’s Elementary on Monday at 4/5/6/7 pm PT/MT/CT/ET. We’ll be looking at a case study about a podcast my students created based on a reading and lesson from an ELD text, that could violate copyright. This is really complicated with English texts, because they often use reprints of work, so the publisher does not have the copyright authority to say it’s okay for teachers to do this. Hope you can listen in?

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