So a while back I saw a nice little video from everyone’s favorite design firm: IDEO.
This makes me think about how I would design a textbook for a student. Most of the time when we think about books we think about the pressures of how a school or teacher would frame the information. But often we forget that our students enter with their own view and ways of interacting with information. Now this doesn’t mean that we must cater everything to the students previous experience. But with as with any user experience (UX) design we must take it into consideration. How do your students get information? Do they sit down and read a book cover to cover? Or do they open a browser and Google a subject? Why do we expect students to read cover to cover in a narrative structure?
Currently publishers design etext to look like textbooks because we expect students to use them as they would physical textbooks. Students then see them as poor replacements to the experience of a traditional textbook. Many prefer physical textbooks to their digital mimics, link, link, link. But now publishers are responding in a very silly way. As opposed to leveraging the abilities of a digital device, they continue to try to make the digital textbook more and more like the physical one. Their idea of interactive and engaging digital textbooks prioritize the ability to add notes to a page, highlight text or easily make flash cards. They then go wild and let student take assessments in the book! #sarcasm But there are some interesting social ideas they are working on, but still only in the earliest stages.
We really do need to look at how information can be reorganized and showing the links between topics if we are going to create something new. We need to allow students to explore concepts not just absorb them. We need to let students work with each other and their instructor through the books. Finally we need to make the text available anywhere, anytime and on any internet capable device.
This is why we need Content by Design.