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DIY Textbooks Offer Enhanced Digital Content

by David Nagel

Campus Technology

Article excerpt

Penn State Technology Allows Faculty and Students to Build Their Own Textbooks from OER

Penn State researchers have been piloting a technology that allows faculty (and students) to build e-textbooks algorithmically using keywords to gather together materials from open resources. The tool, called BBookX, lets users generate textbooks chapter by chapter, adding materials by using keywords to find relevant resources, which can then be culled and organized, even edited by the user.

Our take

Do-It-Yourself Textbooks Keep Faculty and Students Current

With traditional textbooks becoming quickly outdated, new means of providing relevant and timely instruction are needed; personalized e-textbooks may offer new options. But finding time to create original textbooks can challenge already overburdened instructors. At Penn State, a group of faculty, staff and graduate students have developed a tool to allow both faculty and staff to develop and augment their own textbooks easily. The tool, BBookX, uses keywords to help find current and relevant information from a wide range of sources and allows those creating the resources to easily edit, add to and move material. What opportunities might such a tool hold for your instructors and students?

While not yet released, Penn State researchers are interested in partnering with others—both in higher ed and K-12—to further refine and develop this tool. Finding the right balance between controlling costs and staying up-to-date on the information students will need to excel is a continual challenge; tools like this may provide some needed efficiencies.