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Finding and linking to the amazing things in this Universe

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Now I am at the #ACSDenver session - Post-textbook era

Subtitle: What it means for the chemistry classroom - From Theodore Gray with Touch Press, Wolfram Research and Wolfram|Alpha. 

He is the cofounder of Wolfram Research.

He’s been thinking about books and education and teaching and ebooks, but what about textbooks?  What is the future of the American educational system.  There are doubts about the future of traditional higher education.  How are we going to get teachers to better understand science and mathematics?

In education, as in income, the top is doing just fine.  But, there are cracks in the educational system below the cream of the crop.

Math is the first subject that has lost its way.  “Science education is being actively killed, though by different people.”

And, trying to teach science to people who don’t believe that science is the search for truth is difficult. 

Textbooks are atleast as broken as the public school system.  Texbooks also need to be edited, blended up and scrambled every year so that they can sell new editions each year. 

Can textbooks be fixed?  Answer: No. The textbook publishers have dug themselves a big hole.

This is an opportunity for others to get into the textbook market by making electronic textbooks.  The web has shown that individuals can provide high quality online reading and learning material.  Scholars can band together to create organizations to develop their own materials from scratch and cheaper and better.

Required course materials as ebooks are going to be free—eventually.  This may not happen in 5 years, but it could be 10 years.

Once you have an ebook reader, then lots of stuff can be put onto it.

Then, he demonstrates a little bit from Touch Press, and he demonstrated the Elements, the Solar System, and the Waste Land ebooks.

Do we even want our students to use traditional, comprehensive, all-in-one textbooks?  Perhaps textbooks should be reading lists, or provide pointers to some of the best ideas on a particular topic?

Since their ebooks are different from traditional textbooks, they don’t have to be on an approved list, and teachers can use them as supplemental materials.  So, teachers can use the Elements book to provide more info beyond traditional textbooks. 

So, can publication education be fixed?  It might take 50-75 years, though.  Need to find other ways to teach students in the 8-12th grades.  Kids are doing more of their own self directed learning, and they will need to do this past 12th grade anyway. 

Kids need to learn what information is trustworthy and valuable.

Question - Can online learners figure out the context when finding a bit or piece of information online versus a traditional printed source or textbook?   

Filed under chemistry education