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Textbooks

Kno Launches New Android App, Will Ship on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

The new school year is right around the corner, making this the perfect time to release a new textbook app. Kno has just announced their expansion onto Android, with a new app that will ship on Samsung’s latest Android tablet.

This digital textbook distributor has been selling textbooks via their iPad app for the past year and a half, and they’ve had a Facebook app for nearly that long. And today they’re bringing all that experience in producing quality digital textbooks to Android. Read more

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South Korea to Stick With Paper Textbooks

South Korea has long been on the forefront of in every aspect of daily life, but it looks like that might change. The SK government recently announced plans to slow down adoption of digital textbooks and tablets in the classroom.

Last year South Korea started on a plan which would ultimately replace all textbooks with digital textbooks that students would read on tablets and PCs.  Some teachers are objecting to the change they see in students behavior and study habits, and this has led to a plan for

Here’s more from a Washington Post article:

Education leaders here worry that digital devices are too pervasive and that this young generation of tablet-carrying, smartphone-obsessed students might benefit from less exposure to gadgets, not more.Those concerns have caused South Korea to pin back the ambition of the project, which is in a trial stage at about 50 schools. Now, the full rollout won’t be a revolution: Classes will use digital textbooks alongside paper textbooks, not instead of them. First- and second-graders, government officials say, probably won’t use the gadgets at all.

CourseSmart Reader Updated

CourseSmart is rolling out an update this week to their browser based textbook app. This app, which was originally launched last July, is based in HTML5 and works in many different browsers, including on the iPad, Android, and in most Windows and OSX web browsers. It supports note taking as well as an offline reading mode.

The update adds a new reading mode called Accessible View, which lets the student see the original print layout of the textbook. The update also features several improvements to the user experience, including faster page turns, more accessible annotations via a new index, stream-lined navigation, and other subtle improvements under the hood.

Jill Ambrose, chief marketing officer at CourseSmart “We’re a hub that offers services to students, that allow them to purchase or rent textbooks at about 60% discount on print prices; we offer faculty free access to the CourseSmart cataglog for choice control and sampling—88% of all U.S. higher education faculty have CourseSmart accounts; we distribute textbooks through stores in physical form or with download codes.”

This release also marks an expansion of the CourseSmart digital textbook platform which enables its catalog to be integrated with a school’s LMS. This extra functionality is going to enable better interaction between students and teachers.

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Utah to Adopt Open Source Textbooks

The Utah Office of Education (USOE) announced a new program late last month. Starting in the next couple months, Utah is going to develop and release open source digital textbooks for science, and mathematics, and English.

Utah is by no means the first state to push for open source digital textbooks; several states including California and Washington have launched similar programs. This program, while it may have been encouraged by other states, grew out of 2 year digital textbook pilot programs. The pilots were led by David Wiley of BYU’s McKay School of Education, and they were funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The textbooks for the pilots were drawn from the CK12 Foundation.

“Utah’s open textbooks are a great use of technology,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Larry K. Shumway. “Texts get into classrooms quickly and can be updated as needed rather than on a publishing schedule – something that’s particularly important in science. The open textbook also adds to Utah’s reputation as the most cost-efficient school system in the country. This is a fantastic way to get the latest textbooks into the hands of Utah’s nearly 600,000 public school students.”

Utah is planning to have texts available for all grade levels, and the books will be made available in time for the fall semester.

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image by El Frito

German Publishers Plan A Response to Apple

Next month 27 German textbook publishers will come together and present their new digital textbook platform.

The Didacta Education Trade Fair is being held in Hannover next month, and there’s going to be a number of apps, services, and new teaching gadgets on display. The Educational Media Association will also be releasing a preview of their new textbook platform.

Details are still thin on the ground, but the new platform is going to be vendor-neutral, and it is planned to run on all operating systems and devices. The scheduled launch date is set for some time this fall, around the beginning of 2012/2013 school year. There’s going to be both online and offline modes, and teachers and students will be able to purchase eBooks from different publishers and manage them on a shelf.

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image by James F Clay

Courseload to Launch 5 Textbook Pilots This Spring

The digital textbook distributor Courseload is pleased to announce Wednesday that it has partnerships with 5 universities and is about to start new digital textbook pilot programs with the University of California, Berkeley; Cornell University; University of Minnesota; University of Virginia; and the University of Wisconsin. These 5 schools will help test Courseload’s platform using textbooks provided by McGraw-Hill.

The pilot programs, which are based on Indiana University’s successful eText model, offer universities the chance to lower the cost of digital course materials. Courseload assists the institutions in negotiating attractive volume price deals with publishers, znd everyone including students benefit from the program because it dramatically reduce costs while efficiently paying authors and publishers fairly for their digital work.

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Chegg Launches New HTML5 Textbook Reader

Apple is expected to announce all sorts of interesting digital textbook news tomorrow, and it clearly has Apple’s competitor’s worried.

Chegg launched a digital textbook rental service back in August, and today they released an updated reading app. The app is written in HTML5, and it can be used in virtually any browser including the iPad.

The update adds a number of features, including crowd-sourced highlights, instant definitions, and access to Chegg’s Homework Help service. Simply highlight a bit of text and select “Ask A Question”. Chegg’s community of subject matter experts should be able to find an answer within 2 hours.

“At Chegg, we strive to make learning technology easier, more accessible and more productive for today’s college students,” said Dan Rosensweig, president and CEO of Chegg. “With Chegg’s all new cloud-based eTextbook Reader, we’re raising the bar on innovation and productivity for our network of students, creating a personal experience connecting them to the most important content and eLearning services they need to get better grades.”

Kno to Launch Flashcards, Kno Me (stats) Soon

Apple is expected to launch textbook making tools on Thursday, and it looks like Kno didn’t want to get swallowed up by the noise. This morning Kno released a few details on new features that they plan to add to their iPad textbook app.

Kno Flashcards are going to automatically convert key term from within textbooks into interactive flashcards. Kno plans to offer over 40 million flashcards based on the glossaries and indexes of more than 150 thousand digital textbooks in their eBookstore.

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PaperC to Launch Subscription Based Service in 2012

A few days ago PaperC announced new plans to relaunch the site with a new design and a new service.

PaperC is a new German start-up with a novel payment plan. Rather than selling or renting complete textbooks, PaperC sells books by the chapter and even the page. It currently offers nearly over 14 thousand titles from 85 publishers.

In addition to its by-the-page system, PaperC is about to start testing a subscription service. Readers will be able to play a flat fee and use as many textbooks as they need. This new service is just beginning to be beta tested, but when it is released it’s expected to cost between 10 and 20 euros. That should put it well within the reach of the average student.

PaperC also plans to roll out improved Epub support, and it’s looking to make its content more usable on all Epub compatibility apps and devices.

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State of Washington Launches Digital Textbook Repository

Earlier this year the Washington state legislature followed in the footsteps of California and other states. It set aside three quarters of a million dollars to create a new program which will reduce the amount that the state spends each year for college textbooks.

The first phase of that program launched today.The Open Course Library was created by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and it acts as a central repository for digital textbooks and course materials for the college classes with the highest enrollments. Right now only 42 classes are covered, and they’re grouped in the core requirements of math, sciences, and history.

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