Do you know how I have been saying since May that Epub3 wasn’t ready? Even more proof of that premise crossed my desk this morning.
The IDPF sent out a press release this morning, pitching a workshop that they plan to hold in September. This is the second Epub3 booster event announced in as many weeks, and it focuses on getting textbook publishers to do something with Epub3:
The goal of this two-day IDPF workshop is to bring together major players of the global K-20 education publishing market – including publishers, educators, platform and solution providers, standardization organizations, content distributors, and accessibility organizations – to help advance the effective adoption and use of e-textbooks and other digital learning materials by improving interoperability and baseline capabilities via standardization. EDUPUB is hosted by Pearson Education, with organizational co-sponsors W3C and IMS Global Learning, and additional corporate sponsors including Aptara and SPi Global.
There are several things wrong with this, both in concept and execution.
Please note that I do not object to workshops like this; it’s the stand alone equivalent of the conference sessions that the IDPF devoted to pitching Epub3 back in May. It’s the kind of thing that one does to promote adoption. Of course, it’s also a sign that, 2 years after the Epub3 spec has been finalized, there’s still a need to push for adoption.
I also don’t see how this workshop will be able to accomplish its goal. I am not criticizing what the IDPF wants to do, but unfortunately I don’t think this workshop will be able to “advance the effective adoption and use of e-textbooks and other digital learning materials”. Sure, this might get more textbooks on the market, but that doesn’t mean it will get more students to use them.
The BISG released a survey report earlier this month that showed only 7% of college had bought a digital textbook. Sure, more students than ever are using digital content for their classes but they are more likely to pirate it than to buy it for the simple reason that textbooks cost too much.
Right now the parties that are showing the greatest interest in digital textbook are the major textbook publishers, and given their known history of jacking up textbook prices I don’t exactly trust their motives.
P.S. As I pointed out last year, there are some worrying similarities between the hype between what is being said about digital textbooks now and how “No Child Left Behind” was promoted when it was new. One of the core components of “No Child Left Behind” is standardized testing. Guess who gets paid to do most of the test processing?
image by mrJasonWeaver