Den Haag,

Strong desire for information on digital textbooks

Earlier this month, lecturers and publishers came together at Inholland The Hague to get to grips with various aspects of digital textbooks. This turned out to be a very useful gathering, given that this theme is still in its early days and has a bright future. ‘Visitor reactions were positive’, says Stef Barendsen, one of the organisers of the symposium and information specialist at the Inholland library. ‘The dialogue with various stakeholders, the lecturers, publishers and library colleagues, went hand-in-hand with plenty of knowledge exchange. This was a first step, and there’s a clear need for a follow-up with the participation of more lecturers, as well as students and other universities of applied sciences.’

Watch the symposium (in Dutch) 

The library of Inholland has been digitalised in 2015, meaning that this university of applied sciences is playing a pioneering role among fellow institutions. Correspondingly, the Duik in het digitale studieboek! (Explore digital textbooks) symposium was mainly intended to share knowledge. How is the education sector changing? Will lessons still be given on the basis of a book in the future? Why is it that students don’t buy all books? How are publishers responding to the digital possibilities for good teaching resources?

Almost forty interested parties attended the symposium to find answers to these questions. It soon became clear that lecturers and publishers are still struggling with the changes resulting from the digitisation process. Chairman of the day Don Ropes (Inholland Professor of Learning & Development in Organisations) showed his ability to uncover the anxieties lurking below the surface.

Changes in education
Supply and demand are changing. Many choices and directions are now possible and it's not yet clear which will turn out to be future-proof. 'The education sector now needs to take the initiative of articulating the new demand, and for publishers to respond with new products. The cost aspects play a role too, especially when students are paying part of the costs for acquisition of learning resources', explains Stef. 'The role of the library is less about offering learning resources, and much more about providing access to a wide range of specialist literature. With its acquired knowledge of the market, the library can play a mediating role for education or help in exchanging knowledge.'

Open Educational Sources
Speakers at the symposium included Robert Schuwer, Professor of Open Educational Resources at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, an authority in the field of open educational resources. Stef Barendsen says that so far, little attention has been given to this at Inholland, but that it’s a question of ‘simply beginning instead of waiting to see what happens, so assuming our pioneering role once again.’

Bertus Jan Epema, founder of the online book service BUKU, recounted how he has adapted the Spotify model to student textbooks and is focusing on collaboration between educational publishers and lecturers. Many lecturers felt encouraged to start experimenting with the free version of BUKU.

‘The success of this symposium should lead to a follow-up in which we expand the issue from digital textbooks to digital learning resources and materials’, says Stef. If it’s up to him, the event will also be opened to other universities of applied sciences, and to students as well.

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