This is fascinating and could be a landmark statement by the CEO McGraw-Hill, David Levin. He says in a plea, reported in the Huffington Post, ‘Dear students and faculty: please go digital’. He then cites a number of figures from their own research stating that students perform as much as 50% better online than those reading books.
I am not going to disagree with that!
Of course, they have a commercial ‘axe to grind’, they are publicising their own adaptive learning system. But, as usual, it’s a great idea and a great statement, but there is no explanation of strategy or how this is to be done.
At best, it is a simplistic article nevertheless it raises the right issues.
The question is how do faculty teachers, in ‘American speak’, and students manage this. Teaching is somewhere between an art and a science and teachers need to understand how to change their methods to allow for this online learning environment which is not just a question of content. It’s also a question of methodology and how it needs to be adapted to the learning needs of todays digital natives.
The other interesting question it raises is, why do we need publishers? Most of the content created is created by subject matter experts, many of whom are, or were, teachers. If we are publishing in an online environment why do the teachers need a publisher to publish the content online for them when they’re quite capable of doing this themselves.
In fact, with our new concept they will not only be able to do it more effectively but also gain a better understanding of what sort of methodology they should be adopting!
What publishers are usually talking about is not e-learning but simply e-books. Albeit, in this case the progress through the books is being tracked and we could presume there is some attempt at creating learning pathways to tie the content to.
However we can do better by allowing teachers to create their own interactive online content, in their own online spaces, to share with their students or to sell to other teachers – without the intervention and margin of a publisher. Of course, as teachers, we want to encourage further reading around the subject but directing students to further online research and content by subject experts is developing crucial life skills.