Instructors are constantly exploring new materials students can utilize for their studies. From textbooks to web sites, case studies to library databases, and even custom generated material; instructors have a plethora of resources at their fingertips to provide primary or supplemental lesson materials to students. With so much information available, some have recognized a need to consolidate the content into a single reference point for students to use.
One example of an organization that provides this type of service is AcademicPub. Users are able to upload a variety of documents or choose from materials in AcademicPub’s content library to create a customized workbook that can then be supplied to students in print or in a format compatible with a variety of devices; such as iPads and eReaders. AcademicPub touts service in real-time, so copyright material can quickly be cleared for use and books can become available upon creation. In addition, they offer a variety of delivery methods and note it is extremely easy to update custom creations for future semesters.
As another example, FlatWorld Knowledge provides access to free textbooks that can be customized to fit an instructor’s course needs. Instead of relying on copyright clearance, FlatWorld is comprised of a large collection of open-source books that users can adopt and modify. Students then have a variety of options for obtaining the material (free to read online or obtaining a hard-copy, individual chapters, eBook format for a fee).
While not a brand new concept, creating custom textbooks has steadily been gaining ground as a viable option for providing course materials to students for a number of reasons. Many people who use this type of service enjoy the suitability that comes with being able to create custom material that is tailored for a particular course or program. Others commend the possible cost savings it can produce for both departments and students, as these methods have provided course materials at a much cheaper rate than traditional textbooks.
As more resources become available and technology comes up with more ways to provide a convenient platform with which instructors and students can access required data, it’s believed that the concept of custom textbook creation could make a lot of headway. More and more companies, including well-known publishers in the education industry, are tapping into custom textbook creation and, while it is still a fairly small market now, more educators may gravitate to available services due to flexibility and cost.
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