Adaptive E-Textbooks

Peak of Inflated Expectations
UMN Assessment
No Investment Needed
Time Frame
5 to 10 Years
Last Updated on Jul 20, 2014

Adaptive e-textbooks are probably closer to learning applications than textbooks.  As a student reads an adaptive e-textbook, he or she is presented with questions or quizzes. Based on the answers, the smart-book presents different passages for subsequent reading or re-reading, thus "adapting" to the student's mastery of the subject, and presenting a personalized learning path.

An adaptive e-textbook seems markedly similar to the self-paced learning modules of old, or the learning through branching scenarios. They could certainly have utility in certain pedagogies; but is there something new here?  The promoters of adaptive e-textbooks say that not only could they suggest paths and choices based on a student's quiz answers, but could further improve its directions by capturing and digesting the answers of the entire population of students using the application.

Given that all this information is part of a student's educational record, its collection and possession by a publisher raises questions of privacy.  Such pedagogies are also largely passive (and somewhat deprecated) forms of learning: the textbook delivers content and if the student fails a quiz, the textbook delivers it again.  The students are not engaging in the active, authentic thinking that we know to be vital in deep learning.