A new ‘gold standard’ in higher education?

Alternatives to the traditional textbook suit diverse learning needs.

We’re not all four-year undergraduate students living on campus. Many of us have jobs, kids, families, and mortgages. Some of us commute on public transportation, are coming back for a second career, or are getting our diploma after a long hiatus from school.

Our learning styles are as diverse as our demographics—we’re not all “A” students, fast readers, question askers, or test acers. We learn best by listening, or by watching, or—as I do—by being actively engaged in material in order to internalize it. Some of us need repetition, some need highlighters and flashcards; we all need motivation. In today’s technology-driven society, even the fundamental notion of what constitutes a “classroom” is being questioned. Hybrid classes and online degrees are becoming increasingly popular, as we look for more efficient and effective ways to get an education.

Once upon a time, the textbook served as the “gold standard” in the classroom, but alone, these “hardcovers” are failing to meet the diversified needs of today’s learners. Thus our old (heavy) friend, the textbook, is rapidly being replaced by eTextbook platforms. And the new gold standard? Meeting the individual needs of each learner. Education in our digital age has the potential to offer something we, as students, have been hard pressed to achieve in the past: a real voice and a sense of ownership over our educational process.…Read More