New E-Textbooks Do More Than Inform: They'll Even Grade You

Jeffrey R. Young, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, Sept 09, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The Chronicle picks up a McGraw-Hill press release from Tuesday and reports on some new services offered by the publisher, including an online quiz and quiz-marking service. The textbooks, of course, don't grade you - an online application does that. The strategy is clear: "The company is urging professors to require the electronic textbooks for their courses, rather than leave it up to students whether they buy a printed book or an e-textbook." But one wonders how the service would fare against an unbundled competitor: a stand-alone quiz generation and marking service that feeds into institutional LMSs or (perhaps better) SISs. The Chronicle, meanwhile, is quick to leap to the doomsday scenario: "Is it possible that publishers could start selling textbooks that replace the need for going to class altogether?" Or maybe grading could be crowdsourced.
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