Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

OpenStax to Release 10 New Open Source Textbooks by 2017

Posted: 26 Aug 2014 12:43 PM PDT

openstaxRice University’s open source textbook initiative is looking to save college students even more money on textbooks. OpenStax has announced plans to expand their catalog of CC-licensed textbooks by an additional 10 titles over the next 3 years.

OpenStax College, which has released 10 open source textbooks since 2012, recently received several grants and will be using the funds to develop new high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks which will be free to use online or download, and low-cost in print.

“Our books are opening access to higher education for students who couldn't otherwise afford it,” said Rice Professor Richard Baraniuk, founder and director of OpenStax College. “We've already saved students millions of dollars, and thanks to the generosity of our philanthropic partners, we hope to save students more than $500 million by 2020.”

OpenStax’s existing catalog consists of 10 freshman 101 textbooks, including biology, physics, statistics, economics, and more. The upcoming titles will also focus on freshman classes like chemistry and US History. These freshman classes were chosen because these classes have the greatest concentration of students, and because they are the ones most likely for a textbook publisher to “revise” after only a few years, thus costing students money.

The rising cost of college textbooks has inspired a number of initiatives to reduce or alleviate the expense of attending college. Organizations like the CK-12 Foundation  and OpenStax have released free digital textbooks. There are even a growing number of state projects with a similar goal. Several states, including Washington and California, had launched their own archives of digital textbooks which meet their standards.

According to OpenStax, their first seven titles have already saved students more than $13 million. They’ve been adopted at nearly 900 courses colleges, universities, and high schools, and have been downloaded more than 650,000 times.

The post OpenStax to Release 10 New Open Source Textbooks by 2017 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kobo Aura H2O to Go Up for Pre-Order 1 September, Expected to Ship 29 September

Posted: 26 Aug 2014 09:28 AM PDT

kobo-aura-h2o-large1[1]Kobo has yet to officially admit that they have a new ebook reader on the way, but that’s no longer important now that just about all of the interesting details have leaked.

Update: A conflicting report from the French media blog Actualitte says that the Aura H2O will ship on 1 October in the US, Canada, and Europe. They say they have the press release, and that the retail in Europe will be 179 euros.

Thanks to a newly revealed leak, I can now report that the Kobo Aura H2O has an expected ship date of 29 September. Assuming all of these leaks are correct, the Aura H2O will have a retail price of $179, and sport a waterproof 6.8″ Carta E-ink screen.

The Aura H2O is expected to launch next week. According to the leaked spec sheet it will ship with a 1GHz CPU, 4GB internal storage, and a mciroSD card slot. It will of course also have Wifi, a frontlight, and an infrared touchscreen.

Based on the product images below, I would say that my previous suppositions that the Aura H2O would run Kobo’s proprietary software were correct. (To be honest, though, I’m not completely sure we’re looking at the new device and not the Kobo Aura, the 6″ ereader which Kobo launched last year.)

kobo-aura-h2o-large1[1] kobo-aura-h2o-large-side1 kobo-aura-h2o-large-back

The Aura H2O is an updated version of the Kobo Aura HD. It has a similar screen size, but with a slightly lower screen resolution (1430 × 1080) and a newer generation Carta E-ink screen. It’s also certified to meet the IP67 standard, which means e device is dust proof and waterproof to one meter for up to 30 minutes.


The post Kobo Aura H2O to Go Up for Pre-Order 1 September, Expected to Ship 29 September appeared first on The Digital Reader.

A Florida University is Going Off the Books

Posted: 26 Aug 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Florida Polytechnic University is going where several have gone before. Just in time for its inaugural fall semester, this state school has debuted a new library which features a sunlit arched roof and cozy reading chairs – but not a single book.


FPU’s new library is on the second floor of the Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building (pictured above). Featuring a white dome topped with 12-story-high butterfly wings with louvered panels, this $60 million structure houses classrooms, labs, and office space, as well as an 11,000 square-foot library.

Business Insider reported yesterday that Florida’s newest university was the latest school to open a library sans books:

A fully digital library is among the futuristic features of Florida Polytechnic University’s striking dome-shaped building, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. “It’s a boldly relevant decision to go forward without books,” said Kathryn Miller, the university’s director of libraries. The inaugural class of 550 students, offered scholarships covering tuition to attend a public university so new it’s not yet accredited, can access more than 135,000 ebooks on their choice of reader, tablet or laptop.

Bookless libraries are still uncommon both among colleges and among secondary schools, but the idea has been around for a while.

The oldest example I could find was a private school in Massachusetts which renovated their library in 2009 and went bookless:

A year ago, Cushing Academy’s library would have resembled any other, with its hushed atmosphere and tall stacks of books. But that’s no longer the case.

There’s a new cafe where the circulation desk used to be. Where bookshelves once stood, students now sit in easy chairs, studying or watching one of the three new flat-screen TVs. It’s all part of what have been two substantial recent changes at Cushing’s library. The first is removing most of the stacks. And the second is transforming the place into a hub of activity, to give what’s now a largely virtual library a physical home and gathering space.

Sophomore Elsie Eastman says she’s here all the time now. “I remember last year I barely went to the library,” she says. “I loved the library — I just barely ever went.”

According to its website that school’s library is still (mostly) bookless, although it has been some time since it was last in the news.

About a year later The University of Texas at San Antonio followed suit with the launch of a bookless library (they kept their other existing paper-centric libraries). The Applied Engineering and Technology (AET) Library was described as the nation’s first completely bookless library on a college or university campus:

The 80-person capacity library, which caters to College of Sciences and College of Engineering students, is a satellite of the larger John Peace Library on the Main Campus.

Electronic research is central to the AET Library. Instead of storing printed volumes, the library offers students a rapidly growing collection of electronic resources including 425,000 e-books and 18,000 e-journal subscriptions. Skilled science and engineering librarians are available during library hours to help students who need research assistance.

That claim could well be true; while I am sure there already were universities with spaces which resemble the AET Library (lots of computers and desks but no books), I wouldn’t be surprised of the UTSA was the first to call that space a bookless library.

But while it was the first, as we can see from today’s news it was not the last – nor is it the most famous bookless library. That title would belong to Bibliotech, the new public library branch which launched last year in Bexar County, Texas.

This library gained national attention for its focus on digital resources, community activities, and for filling all the same basic needs of a library that don’t involve being a warehouse for books.

A bookless library is still regarded in some circles as a lunatic fringe, but even the NYPL has debated whether the latest renovation to the Schwarzman building on 5th avenue should remove the musty old books and provide more space for visitors. Those plans were opposed by activists and defeated, but the fact they were considered (and by an established and venerated public library, at that) at all is a sign that radical changes are on the way.

Library Journal

The post A Florida University is Going Off the Books appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Dropbox for iPad and iPhone Updated With Document Previews, Better Search

Posted: 26 Aug 2014 04:34 AM PDT

dropbox-logo[1]The Dropbox app for iPad and iPhone is playing catch up with its Android counterpart this morning.

A new update has been rolled out to the app which adds the document previews and search features which were added to the Android app a couple weeks ago. The app also no supports larger animated Gifs (which is great because we all know this is the real reason we have iPads).

According to the changelog, the Dropbox iOS app v3.3 also gained several under the hood improvements, including smarter caching and bug fixes.

But the important change today is the improved search and document previews. The app now enables users to search for and preview any Word document, PowerPoint presentation, or PDF in their Dropbox account. This saves users from having to open a document in another app (an office app, perhaps). For example, a user can view, scroll, and zoom in on their travel docs without needing to switch out of the Dropbox app.

dropbox screenshots

You can find the app in iTunes.

The post Dropbox for iPad and iPhone Updated With Document Previews, Better Search appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment