Technology Trends

This year there are many new technology trends that are forecasted for teaching and learning.  One thing is for sure, over the next year teaching and learning is taking it mobile.  According to the 2011 Horizon Report, one of these mobile devices is the electronic book (Johnson & Smith, 2011, p. 9-11).  The electronic book (e-book) is an important trend in education today.  Because it will help schools and students get through hard economic times.

Five centuries ago, Getenberg introduced modern book printing. His invention of mechanical printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. It single handily spread learning to the masses.

Today, Jeff Bezos, Amazon e-bookstore and Kindle e-reader founder, believes that the e-book can improve upon one of humankind’s most important creations: the book itself.  He and others have started their own modern revolution in reading with the e-book. Which is also spreading learning to the masses (Levy, 2007).

E-books have really taken off over the last year.  E-books have been flying off the virtual bookshelves. Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, The iPad e-readers are doing extremely well and was one of the hottest gift items during the 2010 holiday season.

But how can this craze help teaching and learning?  Did you know that each year more and more college students are dropping out of school because they cannot afford textbooks? When students are paying more for textbooks than tuition in a year, then something is wrong.  They are being forced to either share the textbook amongst two or more students.  Or, hope that the library carries a copy they can check out on an hourly basis.  This inequality can really harm learning and hinder teaching.

A recent trend that has emerged to help with this learning inequality is the open textbook and e-textbook.  The biggest difference between the two is the cost and who is distributing the textbook.

An open textbook is considered an open educational resource.  Meaning it is free and openly shared.    The textbook is for everyone to access and use. With some license to re-mix, improve, and redistribute.  This allows the instructor to alter the book with content that relates to the location or student group.

An e-textbook can be an open textbook or a copyrighted textbook in electronic form.  Copyrighted e-textbooks are usually at a cost. Some campuses are taking the route of partnering up with textbook companies and distributors that are allowing access to e-textbooks with a timed license. This method is usually “copyrighted all rights reserved” material.

Before Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger left office as California’s Governor, he embraced open source digital textbooks for California K-12 schools as a way to save state money. The proposal would save the state around $350 million a year.  California’s embracing of digital textbooks could be the start of a national movement (BBC News, 2009).

In essence, as instructors we have the power to embrace e-textbooks to enhance learning and to ensure that no student is left behind due to cost.  I am planning on using e-textbooks for my software development courses.  There are many open textbook options for me to use (see Resources below).  Most are older edition copyrighted e-books that are free to use on Google Books.

In addition, the software language I teach has not changed much over the years.  So, to me a new edition hard cover book is just a marketing ploy by the textbook companies to sell new books over used.  Think about it, Calculus hasn’t really changed since Newton first introduced it hundreds of years ago.  So ask yourself, why do we need new edition $125 Calculus books every year?



Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Levy , Steven, November 17, 2007. The Future of Reading, Retrieved from:

BBC News, Online push in California schools, June 8, 2009. Retrieved from:


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