RN Students, Get Ready for the Electronic Textbook
Nursing students who are tired of hauling around heavy — and expensive – medical textbooks will be glad to learn that electronic textbooks are taking a big step closer to reality.
Software developer ScrollMotion has signed a deal with major textbook publishers, including McGraw-Hill, Random House, Wiley and Kaplan, to adapt their books for the soon-to-be-released Apple iPad.
But don’t get too excited just yet. The e-textbook has a ways to go before it becomes widely available to students in nursing programs and elsewhere.
Of course, publishers love the idea of creating electronic versions of their medical textbooks — because of the savings in printing, production and storage costs, as well as the ability to update the books virtually. And e-books have features that are particularly useful for the student, such as instant access to specific references; and brighter, more realistic graphics.
Yet, electronic health textbooks have been slower coming to market than other educational materials such as medical journals, manuals and study guides. This is in part due to e-books’ limited technical capabilities and interactivity, which has held down demand among nursing students and others. That is about to change.
As McGraw-Hill executive Rik Kranenburg told the Wall Street Journal:
“People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010.”
ScrollMotion will develop iPad applications for e-books that let students play video, record lectures, search the text, highlight text, write notes and take interactive quizzes.
The first-generation iPad, however, lacks the capability for many of these functions. Users such as RN students can’t multitask on the iPad; they can’t participate in video-conferences or virtual study groups (no camera); they can’t play Flash-based videos downloaded from the Web; and they can’t take notes (no handwriting recognition). Plus, the device isn’t cheap: at least $499, plus $30 or more in monthly user charges.
You can bet competitors are watching the ScrollMotion deal and will be quick to make similar moves. Therefore, a cheaper netbook, say, or Amazon’s Kindle DX, may end up being the e-book device of choice. Or, it very well could be a subsequent generation of the iPad that RN students find themselves hauling around. Stay tuned!
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