My Twitter Digest for 03/13/2016

Are e-casebooks doomed by perceived shortcomings of e-books generally?

Can these obstacles be overcome? It doesn’t seem likely. While e-books are great for keyword-searching and access via tables of contents, for tasks that require flipping back and forth and finding the right page in a hurry, they’re not so great. While e-books do have the convenience of instant access and search capability, they will probably always be better-suited to mass-market fiction that is meant to be read in a linear fashion, rather than textbooks and reference material that needs instant random access.

— Sometimes e-textbooks come up short – TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond

I think the reason e-textbooks (and e-casebooks in my world) come up short is because they merely replicate print in an electronic format. These resources attack print typically on price and weight, 2 attributes that have nothing to do with the information being delivered. The potential for electronic educational materials is practically limitless but publishers and even authors are focused on recreating print.

Think of the first automobiles. They were referred to as horseless carriages for a reason, many designs were engines dropped into horse carriages. And that didn’t really work out, did it? It took many years and a lot of development to break the idea of copying carriages and come up with what we now know as the automobile.

E-books are still in the horseless carriage phase of development, everything getting forced into the tired metaphor of a book. We need to break free of the limits imposed by the book and push development of these educational resources into the future. The tools exist to do all the things we want to do with e-casebooks, we just need to use the tools and let go of the past