Two-screen mobiles are arriving for virtual textbooks

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Posted on 9th August 2010 by Judy Breck in Mobiles

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Mobiles come in many sizes and with a wide variety of features, ranging from small smart phones to iPads, to laptops, and now two-screen devices. What defines a “mobile” for education is that it is an individual device which a student can keep with her as she moves from location to location. A Wired Campus article last week describes two new mobiles, the Know and the Edge, that are being introduced this fall to enhance mobile textbook use by having two screens.

While the Kindle has largely failed with students as a replacement for printed textbooks, some colleges plan to test new e-reader devices whose promoters argue that two screens are better than one. . . . Like the Kno, the Edge primarily serves as a textbook reader, although it also offers applications, because it relies on Google’s open-source Android platform. Both devices feature Web browsing, e-mail access, and audio recording.

Note in the excerpts above that both of the two-screen mobiles being introduced include Web browsing, which is the second of the two keys that allow a student to take schooling into his own hands. The first key is having his own mobile device which cuts his learning loose from computers that are wired down to a physical location. The second key is the ability to use that device to connect with the unlimited knowledge resources that lie within the open internet cloud beyond the downloaded learning applications and content on his mobile.

What if the Texas subject decisions were about online resources?

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Posted on 16th March 2010 by Judy Breck in Findability | Schools we now have

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Texas has decided to make Cold War anticommunism look better, drop Thomas Jefferson as an intellectual leader, keep country music and drop hip hop. As Yahoo reports today:

The revised standards have far-reaching implications because Texas is a huge market leader  in the school-textbook industry. The enormous print run for Texas textbooks leaves most districts in other states adopting the same course materials, so that the Texas School Board effectively spells out requirements for 80 percent of the nation’s textbook market. That means, for instance, that schools in left-leaning states like Oregon and Vermont could soon be teaching from textbooks that are short on references to Ted Kennedy  but long on references to conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

There is such a simple answer to this strange limitation on what students will be assigned to learn for coming years: put it all on the internet. The answer is even simpler than that: it is all already on the internet! Learn, for example, about country music at the Nashville Hall of Fame. National Geographic has an excellent HIP HOP MUSIC online section.

If the Texas subject decisions were about online resources, the kids could study both country music and hip hop. They could get lot broader knowledge on every subject.

A printed textbook costs A MILLION TIMES MORE than its eBook

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Posted on 2nd February 2010 by Judy Breck in Mobiles

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Publishers of a printed textbook in your student’s backpack are getting A MILLION TIMES MORE MONEY for that book than a digital publisher would for delivering the same content to your student’s mobile. This fact is clear from an analysis of the MacMillan vs. Amazon dust-up this week. Charlie Martin writes: “This weekend kerfuffle is really the death throws of a business model.” He says bet on Amazon. His article includes this big picture analysis of what is happening to print — of which textbook publishers are a major component:


The key is the mainstream publishers’ worry that e-books will cannibalize the sales of physical books. Mainstream book publishers, along with mainstream music publishers and the legacy media newspapers, are actually primarily manufacturers. The costs of the content, in royalties to the authors, are only about 10 percent of the cover price of the book, and less than that for the record. It’s the costs of setting type or mastering, printing the books or pressing the disks, shipping, cataloging, and selling them that dominates the costs of publishing.
Now, along come e-books and readers, like the Kindle and the iPad. Suddenly the whole business of publishing has changed. You can sell a physical book or an e-book — but each copy of the e-book costs literally one one-millionth as much to produce.