[Innovate] Special Issue on the Future of the Textbook

James L Morrison morrison at unc.edu
Fri Sep 12 08:42:18 PDT 2008

This special issue focuses on the future of one key element of "old
school" education in a Web 2.0 world: the textbook.

While textbooks have long been a central component in traditional,
bricks-and-mortar-based curricula, they have been slow to join the
technological revolution. Indeed, in some ways, the textbook is
symbolic of "old school" education; as a cumbersome, expensive
compendium of accepted wisdom, the textbook could be seen as standing
in the way of the personalized, readily modified, self-constructed
knowledge that contemporary students demand and developing technology
allows. But the textbook has important functions in both the
traditional and online classrooms. As centralized collections of key
information, textbooks can help students manage, analyze, and filter
the mass of information now available literally at the click of a

And the concept of the textbook is evolving along with other elements
of education. e-Book technologies can reduce the weighty mass of paper
to a single, small appliance. Electronic textbooks offered online can
include multimedia resources and reach beyond themselves via
hyperlinks that facilitate individual exploration. Online versions are
easily modified as information changes; can be personalized by
learners via annotation, indexing, and interactive features; and can
be made affordable for students around the world. In short, the
textbook won't be going away, but it must evolve, both technologically
and pedagogically.

Submissions for this special issue may address, but are not limited
to, these key issues:

1. What will textbooks look like in the future? Will the textbook as
we know it continue to exist in some recognizable form, or is the
future of the textbook limited?

2. How will emerging technology, like the pairing of X-O computers
and downloadable textbooks in use in Peru or cell-phone-sized readers
with book-size pages, transform the content, function, and uses of the

3. How can textbooks be made accessible and affordable for
disadvantaged learners and those in developing countries lacking the
resources to acquire and maintain print textbooks?

4. What is the current state-of-the-art in textbooks? How are K-21
educators already experimenting with e-textbooks and other
innovations? What can these experiments tell us about the future of
the textbook?

5. What role will wikis and other Web 2.0 technologies play in the
textbook of the future?

6. How can the textbooks of the future incorporate the best features
of constructivist and authentic learning principles, by tailoring
content to individual learner needs (including the needs of disabled
learners) or through other technological innovations?

7. How will textbooks shape the interaction between teacher and
student and the role of the teacher in education?

8. What developments--in technology, in funding, in pedagogical
theory, and in politics and copyright law--will be required to make
e-textbooks readily available, especially to students in developing

If you would like to submit a manuscript on this topic, please review
our submission guidelines and send your manuscript to the guest
editor, Parker Rossman (g.p.ross at mchsi.com [1]), and to the
editor-in-chief, James Morrison (jlm at nova.edu [2]), no later than
April 1, 2009.


James L Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
Fischler School of Education and Human Services
Nova Southeastern University

[1] http://innovateonline.info/g.p.ross@mchsi.com
[2] http://innovateonline.info/jlm@nova.edu

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