About a month ago I posted a blog about the evolution of e-books. In this post I briefly described one product by Pearson called Revel. In this week’s post I want to share the product from another publisher, McGraw-Hill, and their approach to e-books. MGH’s SmartBook product is an e-book based on the principles of mastery learning. Mastery learning is the notion of having learners study material and then demonstrate their competence typically through quizzing. Mastery learning requires a student to master earlier material before moving on to more complex material. MGH’s SmartBook product uses this basic principle.
In a nutshell, instructors select the learning objectives from the text that they want their students to learn and the depth at which they wish to have students learn the material (from very basic understanding to having a deeper conceptual understanding of the material). Students then read the text and answer a series of questions. The question presentation is based on a complex algorithm which adapts to several things that the student can do while answering questions (if right/wrong, level of confidence, time to answer, clicking on resources, etc) so each student’s question experience is different (which makes cheating and copying off one another difficult). Based on the question performance and the student’s confidence level, completing an assignment can take a very short amount of time (if the student knows the material and is confident) or a very long amount of time (if simply guessing and clicking through).
In addition to these features, the grades from the assignments can be integrated into a Moodle gradebook (we just need to obtain the plug-in so if you are interested let me know). Also there are some possibilities for assessment results to be displayed as well.
Comparing the two products, they are very different. From my viewpoint, Revel focuses more on creating interactivity in the books and segmenting the learning (read a little then do a little) more whereas SmartBook focuses more on using the mastery learning approach to help get students to read and study more before class. SmartBook is created for both computer and mobile devices.