I’m a big fan of two things mentioned in this article—higher education and tablet computers. I believe my education helped shape me for my present reality. I also know tablet devices have affected the sales of every kind of book. There are three main ways tablet publishing will revolutionize higher education. There also are three reasons it won’t happen in every educational institution.
Three ways tablet publishing will revolutionize higher education:
- Information can be kept current. Electronic publishing greatly reduces the time and cost associated with updating information. Authors will be able to incorporate recent statistics and ongoing research into their existing publications keeping them relevant and providing students the best text possible.
- Information can be delivered in multiple formats. Educators know that we all learn differently. The delivery of course-related content on tablet devices enhances the opportunity to learn for students who need more than a lecture.
- Any educator can publish. This changes everything because anyone can publish for a tablet. Educators will no longer need a publisher to get their work in the hands of their students. As a result, texts will be tailored to individual classes. No longer will an educator have to tailor the course to fit the texts that are in print. Textbooks will be less expensive, more relevant, and easier to carry from class to class.
So, why won’t it work in every educational setting? Here are three reasons:
- The academic world doesn’t adapt to change. Herein lies one of the biggest issues facing higher education. Many professors teach relying only on the content they studied when they were in school three decades earlier. Many professors are riding their tenure into the sunset and have no plans to change anything. I find it interesting that many institutions to which we entrust the next generation are more concerned with preserving the past than in preparing for the future.
- Publishers are powerful. Traditional publishers will lobby institutions with all sorts of horror stories about the dangers of independent publishing. Sadly, many administrators will listen and encourage professors to stick with the tried and true textbook classics. That’s great—if they plan to recreate the 1950s.
- Professors are overcommitted. The academic world is on the brink of collapse. The cost of “doing business” means the professor to student ratio is getting worse. Professors used to have time to write and research. Today, however, they have more classes with more students per class. They don’t have the time to keep their books updated or to write new ones. Therefore, the tendency is to rely on texts that always have been used.
I think tablet publishing will change a lot of things including higher education. I just don’t look for academia to lead the way. Why wait? While you were reading this post, new ebooks written by people just like you hit the ebook shelves. In 2010, 114 million ebooks were sold—many of them produced by average, everyday people.
Dr. Terry Hadaway is the Research Director at BenStroup.com and author of 30 Seconds to Chaos: The Art of “What If” Thinking. You can get his book in the Kindle store, but you won’t find it in the bookstore.