Caroline Horn reports in the Children’s Bookseller this month on the rise of digital books and content in education in an article entitled “On the crest of a digital wave” (pages 9+10 – seems to only be available in the off line magazine, sorry).

Whilst the majority of the article concerns e-books she looks beyond that at different media types:

“The introduction of whiteboards and broadband to schools makes the education market a significant potential user of digital resources…the education market is one of the least exploited markets in terms of digital content and resources

Hey, this sounds like my sort of thinking.

Her thread opens up the necessary debate that we shouldn’t attempt to replicate in ICT how we used to be taught before the internet and the rise of technology, but that we should embrace a new way of thinking about how we use content.

A book by necessity of it’s physical structure places certain constraints on the educator and learner.

What we are seeing is a move away from pre built and ‘closed’ material to a provision of ‘atomised assets’ that can be manipulated, reused and published in an online environment”.

Dr Martyn Farrows, Simulacra

Dr Farrow has commercial interests in pushing this point of view (and so do we, therefore I’m all for this particular debate) but that doesn’t invalidate the premise that more and more ICT thinking is looking at the manipulation of content as the end goal as opposed to simply the delivery of that content under a structure.

For example “As a Teacher I have X numbers of digital assets – I want to farm a set of MFL MP3s out to my class’s mobile phones, upload my lesson plans to my PDA and display my video clips inside PowerPoints I have built…” and so on.

“Schools will become more confident in exploring internet-based resources beyond their defined VLE…making more use of “device-independent, browser-based, Web 2.0 style interactivity”, including social networks, self publishing and browser based toolkits.”

ode will provide a massive amount of VLE content from many publishers portfolios but we will not restrict them to VLE display only – each asset will be playable within ODE itself as and when they need to by constructing playlists. Some of our users (and I won’t name names) rarely use their VLE due to it’s complexity and heavy handed nature.

“Prior to having this Kaleidos installed, we have also had Moodle installation. I set this up, primarily for a single online A-level ICT course, so we could be as flexible with our students as possible. This hosted externally on a dedicated server. In essence, give or take 4-5 months, both were installed at the same time. This was 18 months ago.

At present in a staff of 80, 2 occasionally use Kaleidos. No others do…(Moodle) is used by 80% of our staff regulary and by about 90% of our 1100 students.” (you may have to log in as guest).

So it may depend on how the VLE is perceived in the school as to how well it’s used.

Ultimately it may be the publishers job to give educators access to content and platforms to allow them to personalise the learners experience using that content and stand well back.

“…the business model is more about transaction-based micropayments or licensing of individual digital assets on demand, rather than consumption of pre-built resources.”

Dr Martyn Farrows