A Digital Textbook Should be More Than A Textbook

Originally posted at TeachPaperless.

My students have digital textbooks for several of their classes, including my social studies class. These texts are basically pdf files of the book, with a much more confusing navigation. I’m not a big fan of textbooks, and we rarely use them in class. I prefer to have my students doing their own research, or creating a product, rather than reading a textbook.

Today I asked them what they think a digital text should include. These were some of their ideas:

  • Video
  • Links to sources (My students want the author’s sources so they can check the reliability of the textbook, or do further investigation.)
  • Activities they can download
  • Intuitive navigation (like a web page)
  • Loads quickly
  • Customizable fonts
  • Adjustable page size
  • Colorful
  • Searchable
  • Links to sites of experts on the topic
  • Question and answer section where they can post and respond
  • Live chat with other students and recognized experts
  • Rollover of terms to see the definition
  • Linked table of contents
  • Printable pages
  • Voice controls (They are 7th graders.)

These ideas would make the text more of an interactive web site than a text book.
Note to publishers: That is a good thing.


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