It’s storytime at my place, but today that mean ebooks, not books. In How Interactive Ebooks Engage Readers and Enhance Learning, Avi Itzkovitch bemoans the fact that interactive ebooks are failing to take advantage of the interactive possibilities of the medium:

In the race to bring interactive books to market, some of the books have only featured very superficial interactivity—what I call “interactivity for the sake of interactivity”—where, for example, touching an image activates a simple animation such as making a butterfly fly, or a tree drop leaves to the ground. These interactive experiences do not add value to the story, and are therefore somewhat meaningless.

Storytime and reading

I share Itzkovith’s enthusiam for the ePUB3 standard:

Future textbooks might be able to “read themselves” with audio narration, perhaps preventing students from actually reading. But the benefits outweigh the downsides; for example, the new text books might also offer the ability to make and share annotations without destroying the book, interactive self-tests throughout the chapters, and generally a much more enjoyable learning experience.
The author dismisses many of the so-called ‘breakthrough publications as gimicky. Al Gore’s Our Choice gets a nod of approval:

…a great example of how meaningful interactivity creates an engaging and fun learning experience. With clever use of interactive infographics, animations, documentary videos, and images, this book is a great example of what the future has in store for digital publishing.

I think I’m going to have to get the author’s Timor the Alligator, about learning to brush your teeth, for my own toddler. She’s into eating the toothpaste, but that’s about it. The Numberlys app also sounds great.

Only problem is the brewing attention deficit syndrome that ebooks might be creating in my toddler. She can’t seem to get past the interactivity to the story. She’s so consumed by interactivity, there’s no opportunity to actually engage. Hopefully that will come. [She’s no good with TV either. Image by me.]

Jenny Weight
English consultant and graphic novelist
Since leaving the higher education sector I’ve been focussed on thinking about education more holistically – I’m particularly interested in the interface between education and media, but I want to understand better how we can bring our traditional educational institutions to embrace the possibilities that the network and media are opening up. We need to reinvent education to suit the nature of our working lives, and our need to engage in routine lifelong learning. I use my research and writing skills to explore these issues. I consult on education issues and assist postgraduate students with their theses.

As an artist, my new project is Mayor, a graphic novel set in thirteenth century Spain. You can find out more about these activities in my blog: geniwate.com.