A Digital Textbook Should be More Than A Textbook

24 Feb 2011

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.