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2012 January – CourseSmart
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Archive for January, 2012

CourseSmart Welcomes Apple to the Party!

January 20th, 2012 by CourseSmart

In response to Apple’s announcement yesterday regarding their entry into the eTextbook market, we at CourseSmart, as industry leaders, would like to welcome them to the party! With the explosion in popularity of eTexts over the past year, it’s certainly no surprise that Apple would want to make a late entry into the market.

Here are our initial thoughts:

We’re pleased about the impact Apple’s statement has made on the way people view the act of accessing educational course materials today. Any announcement which brings more awareness to digital course materials is good for students, and will help move the industry forward. However, yesterday’s Apple offerings left us with more questions than answers.

Here are our initial questions:

Are the apps only available for the iPad or will Apple become “device agnostic?” According to Student Monitor data that was released yesterday, only 9% of Higher Education students own an iPad. Although we do not know, we assume the number may be even lower for the K-12 market due to the price of an iPad. What about the millions of cash-strapped students who already own an Android device, a Kindle Fire or a Nook? Unless Apple intends to offer on other devices, the market will be underserved. CourseSmart was the first to develop an iPhone app, Android app, and Web app that allows even Kindle Fire & Nook owners to access CourseSmart eTexts through their very own device.

Who is developing the content? The new iBooks Author app allows users to create and publish books for the iPad by dragging and resizing images and text, adding definitions, movies, and 3D objects. Apple stated that anyone with JavaScript or HTML5 skills can make their eText interactive. We doubt that faculty will be easily convinced to create their own content when they have hundreds of papers to grade and have to learn JavaScript or HTML5 in order to incorporate interactivity. In fact, the best and most trusted content is created by publishers in partnership with authors.

Will using iBooks 2 offer improved learning outcomes? While it’s great to see Apple providing many parity features that CourseSmart and other providers already offer, iBooks 2 isn’t really reinventing textbooks. Our publishers already have, with “eResources” which are much more advanced technologically. CourseSmart has the largest catalog of eResources from all the major publishers, who have partnered with the most credible authors. Interactivity is cool and interesting, but only if connected to improving student learning outcomes.

The development and consumption of digital content is well underway. Though Apple’s late entry to the market was not entirely unexpected, its impact on learning remains yet to be proven. CourseSmart, founded in 2007, is the world’s largest provider of digital content. Our catalog includes over 90% of the textbooks in use today. CourseSmart customers enjoy anytime, anywhere access. We look forward to the future of the digital publishing industry, and we’re eager to continue to be the market leader for our millions of student, faculty and institutional users.

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Find CourseSmart at CES 2012

January 10th, 2012 by CourseSmart

Our first conference of 2012 may well be the largest one we attend all year.  With upwards of 150,000 attendees, 42,000 registered media, and 2,700 corporate participants, the annual Consumer Electronics Show is flooding Las Vegas with techies.  For those who managed to snag a hotel room in time, the next four days will be crammed with a smorgasbord of concerts, parties, and most importantly, tech announcements.

Every industry, including those remotely connected to electronics, will be chomping at the bit to present their wares and to hear about what’s hot and new for 2012.  My personal pick for most unusual debut?  A robot produced by TOSY Robotics that will be unveiled by none other than tween heartthrob, Justin Bieber.

Never one to miss out on the fun, CourseSmart will participate in one of CES’s TechZones, HigherEdTECH.  CEO Sean Devine will speak on the panel entitled, “From Dewey to Digital: Are e-Books, Tablets and Digital Content Coming of Age?”  Moderated by Casey Green, founder of The Campus Computing Project, and running from 12:45 - 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11, this panel promises to bring up some of the most pressing digital content issues facing the higher education market.

We can’t wait to see what’s unveiled over the next few days!

Nani Jansen, Event Coordinator at CourseSmart