WikiBooksLuminary, Bonnie Bracey, shared with us (one of the mailing lists I monitor) an article from ZDNet, Wikibooks takes on Textbook Industry. Wikibooks is an interesting development from Jimbo Wells Wikipedia project, especially when thinking back on the Downers Grove Summit. You might recall that selected educators from suburban Chicago attended two days of work on Web 2.0 technologies and then spent some time negotiating (Summit) how they might be leveraged for teaching and learning. The first quarter of the conversation centered on how these new technologies might become the textbook of the future. You can hear the conversation at Connect Learning, Episode 36 File 1.

I thought I would share my response here:

This is an exciting project, though I wonder if the textbook metaphor may be short lived. The model for learning in the 21st century should be life-long learning. It isn’t just that we are preparing children to become life-long learners, but that should be the model (with obvious exceptions).

Years ago, when I was forced by circumstances to move my web site from my Mac web server running Filemaker Pro, to a Linux web server running MySQL and PHP scripting, I went out and spent about $80 on some books. I almost never opened them up. I ended out researching on the Net to solve current problems, and keeping a notebook of common code modules.

I think it’s a great idea, asking people to contribute their knowledge for student learning, but the textbook may be an outdated model. Perhaps, create a different angle for WikiPedia, and ask people to contribute to that, and then ask students to use that content to create their own textbooks (or what ever you might call them — notebooks) with which they learn what ever the outcomes of the course might be.

How about creating a world wide web, within the world wide web that is explicitly designed to provide content (open source) for learners, and build it in a way that students can remix the content into their personal textbooks/learning networks/notebooks/whatever.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.