Textbooks of the future: Will you be buying a product ... or a service?

Michael Trucano, EduTech, Oct 18, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Good discussion of planned investments in e-textbooks. "The World Bank is currently working with a few countries that are planning for the procurement of lots of digital learning materials," writes Michael Trucano. What we are seeing is that "many education ministries prefer to have schools accessing content from one central place that is in some way overseen by the ministry itself." It's not surprising that e-textbooks would be marketed in thsi way - if you marketed simply to teachers or students, they would be just as likely to select free and open access materials instead. Government ministries rarely take the lower-cost route. Additionally, "they are buying not a free-standing product (like they did with 'a textbook'), but rather that they are buying what is essentially a time-bound service ('access to what a textbook contains')." This changes the nature of the relationship with vendors.

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