TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY EDUCATION IS ALL ABOUT CREATING THE RIGHT BALANCE OF TECHNOLOGICAL AND NON-TECHNOLOGICAL RESOURCES FOR THE BENEFIT OF STUDENTS. THE RIGHT EDUCATION IS A COMBINATION OF DIGITAL RESOURCES AND ANALOGUE TOOLS.
Advancements and Approaches in the Development of Textbooks:
In this day and age when we can hail a cab, order food, watch movies and read books, all on our mobile phones, we can safely assume that we have finally reached the peak of 21st-century civilisation. This is an interesting epoch in the field of education too – a juncture at which we need to contemplate the future of the humble textbook, the one we grew up with, and which has steadfastly served education in the last few centuries. Will it survive and thrive in the future?
Like everything else around us, the textbook is changing too. It is also a fact that online journals and digital learning resources have had quite an impact on the production, distribution, sales and utility of paper textbook, but they still continue to be popular due to their seamlessness, availability and portability. It may be surprising to know that, even in 2018, with all the technological advancements that we have made in the world so far, there is still a large part of the global population that does not have access to any kind of digital tools or online information. As the global citizens of the 21st century, we may be tempted to rely too much on technology, and rightly so, as it can afford us many conveniences and comforts, but at the same time, we need to use a rational approach to integrating technology into our lives. A balanced perspective on technology is also a need of the hour in education. Twenty-first-century education is all about creating the right balance of technological and non-technological resources for the benefit of students. The right education is a combination of digital resources and analogue tools. Thankfully, governmental agencies, educational organisations and NGOs are all working together to reinforce the use of the textbook both inside and outside the classroom.
Role of Textbooks:
In the scenario of modern education, textbooks play a vital role in the teaching–learning process. It is unlikely for any other teaching aid or tool to replace it. Even in this day and age of advanced technology, textbooks remain one of the most basic and foundational steps towards education. A young student’s first exposure to education begins with textbooks. They are personal, handy and students do not require preparations for their utility. Children also develop the habit of opening the textbook and reading up on their own. Textbooks are still the inevitable and important part of the curriculum. Aspects of a good textbook include interactivity, ability to inspire interest in students and capacity to engage and immerse them in the learning process. In other words, good textbooks are the right tools to communicate, indulge and interact with students.
ADVANCEMENTS IN TEXTBOOK DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION
Look and Feel:
Today, graphic designing for books has become a specialised activity. It is continuously evolving to adapt to the changing needs of the education sector. In the last two decades, the rise of graphic design, typography, photography, availability of quality paper and printing techniques have thoroughly changed how textbooks look and feel. A great textbook is a fine combination of clean typography, photographs and illustrations that appeal visually as well as communicate the themes and concepts; good printing as well as production techniques.
Research in Education:
There has been a lot of research in the education sector in the last two decades. New scientific insights into how children learn are influencing the curriculum which is being designed keeping in mind their learning needs in the 21st century. In India, autonomous bodies like NCERT undertake a majority of studies and research to understand students and their academic requirements to better provide lessons that will help them grow up as well-rounded individuals. Learners are changing, so should the textbook.
Advancements in Printing:
Printing has come a long way, from the Gutenberg machine to the modern laser printer. With faster turnaround times, better quality and lower costs, offset and digital printing has thoroughly revolutionised the textbook industry, with the provision of mass production in the smallest time frame.
Choice of the paper for a textbook is the most important factor that signifies its overall quality. Luckily, there have been tremendous advances in the manufacture of paper in the last few decades. Printers, these days, are using lightweight paper to reduce the weight of the textbooks. They are also being separated into thin volumes for portability and printed in separate modules for the convenience of students.
Textbooks and the Digital Age:
Some of us may wonder why we are talking about textbooks when the future is going to be all digital? The slow transition of academic materials into digital platforms is quite a significant one, but it needs to be remembered that textbooks have played a crucial role in improving educational outcomes. Over the years, textbooks have been developed to support highly effective pedagogic practices and their features have been subjected to extremely careful development and refinement. However, it needs to be understood that paper textbooks and digital textbooks do not discount each other. An effective teaching– learning process is a result of a balance of the two.
New-age Digital Resources:
Using electronic learning resources to enhance interactive and self-directed learning has become a global trend in education. The interactive and diversified sets of e-textbooks can be developed on parity with printed textbooks. Schools may opt for e-textbooks as per their students’ learning needs and capacity, as well as the school infrastructure and technical support. Digital books enable students to study from any place, at any time by using a computer, a tablet or a mobile phone. Not only this, the learning process is far more engaging and immersive. Students can now watch videos, make notes while reading, take part in activities and work on assignments. Report of their activities can be generated and sent to their parents. The advances in technology are also enhancing the utility of many digital learning resources.
As the textbook is the most basic and elemental part of education, Next Education recognises its importance, function and scope. In their effort to reinforce quality education, they developed a series of textbooks called NextBooks. The books have been effective because of their appealing look and feel, and carefully crafted content and teaching approaches. These factors come together to engage the learners and make them eager to explore more. While our core instructional books keep the learners engaged in the classroom, the learners’ companion provides ample practice and gauges comprehension and the digital version of the books extend learning beyond the classroom at any time.
Characteristics of NextBooks:
NextBooks are manufactured on 80 GSM quality paper. They feature a refined style of artwork and thoroughly researched content, which make the subjects both interesting and engaging. Additionally, elemental chlorine-free paper is used to make the books safe for students.
Curriculum Design & Pedagogy:
NextBooks series is carefully constructed using relevant pedagogies and modern curriculum design for the most effective teaching–learning process. The lessons are thematically grouped for effective learning and retention of information. The lesson design, too, has been executed to develop multiple intelligences, higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and instill life skills in students.
NextBooks series comprise core instructional books which are divided into three parts, A, B and C or A and B, depending on the curriculum, to reduce physical burden on students. The books have ample practice exercises compliant with Bloom’s taxonomy which assesses the child’s comprehension through new exercises and fun activities that remove repetitiveness from homework. The content of the books is thematically integrated and observes a logical flow. The learners are gradually introduced to the lesson followed by exercises to test their knowledge and finally revision to strengthen the concepts learnt.
Integration of QR Codes:
QR codes which can be scanned by mobile phones and tablets open the doors to digital learning. The codes are strategically placed within the physical books. On scanning them, students can watch videos on their smartphones and tablets to gain more clarity on concepts.
Interactive Digital Books:
The responsive user interface of the digital book enables students to study from any place, at any time using a computer, a mobile phone or a tablet. Apart from these conveniences, the learning experience is far more engaging, given the interactive nature of the digital books. Learners can now watch videos, annotate while reading, partake in activities and work on assignments based on which reports can be generated and sent to parents.
On the whole, NextBooks offer a lot of exercises for activity-based learning. Features of the books such as Get Set/Jump Start, Exercises, Questions, Activities, Revision, etc. not only help measure the learning outcomes, but also help to predict them.
With the advancing technology, it’s hard to predict what will happen to the ubiquitous textbook, but it is also true that the education sector today is rife with exciting happenings with regards to the development of new learning tools and resources which are increasingly becoming more dynamic than ever. Even in the middle of all these developments, the market for textbooks is still very much in existence, with the format remaining relevant at the current moment. It is easy to get blindsided by the overwhelming influence of technology in our lives and we may even wonder, which direction is the education sector heading and arrive at the contemplation – Do we still need the textbook? The answer is a resounding yes!
About the Author:
Vishnu Vardhan has completed his Masters in Advertising and has more than 12 years experience in the advertising industry. Coming from literature background, his primary talent lies in writing engaging articles. Technology, science, cinema and literature are his favorite subjects.