A classroom in your eBook?

Inkling’s 2.0 eBooks will also let students combine their tablet reading with Google and Wikipedia searching. Those sites will be available for extra web research as a student reads her class assignment, and the results can be saved in the individualized Inkling notebook.

Inkling’s online store has about 50 textbooks, and the company’s website said students and faculty members on more than 50 campuses will use Inkling eBooks this fall.

Not everyone is sold on Inkling’s 2.0 rollout.

Until Inkling has hundreds or thousands of college textbook titles, the eBooks’ social media aspect will likely go unnoticed in higher education, said Nate Hoffelder, a writer for The Digital Reader, a blog that tracks developments in the ePublishing industry.

“There’s not much reason to download the app,” he wrote, adding that the social media additions are “long overdue basic features.” “Chances are it won’t have a textbook you can use.”

Inkling’s announcement marked the second time in August that an eBook company unveiled plans to incorporate reading with social media platforms and student-to-student communication.

Kno, an educational software company that grabbed the attention of campus technologists in July with the release of a controversial eBook survey, announced Aug. 10 that it would make more than 100,000 digital textbooks readable via Facebook.

Using Kno’s Facebook application–-in open beta for now–-students will be able to access a reading assignment and use their Facebook news feed to pose questions to fellow students, teaching assistants, and professors.

While student Facebook use is considered ubiquitous in many corners of higher education, Kno released survey results to reinforce what faculty members know all too well: Facebook is an ingrained part of everyday life for teenagers and twenty-somethings.

“Students interact differently in the digital medium and our goal is to help students easily extract the pertinent information for their classes,” said Osman Rashid, Kno’s CEO and co-founder. “While it may seem like a radical concept to bring textbooks to Facebook, we see a real shift occurring among students, where learning is getting embedded with social aspects of their everyday life.”

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