Social ‘U’

Came across this article last week:, which discusses a budding partnership for Google, the Internet search giant, and Pearson, a publishing company. Up until a few years ago, I thought publishing companies simply published books.

I’m not going hide the fact that I never liked the ‘new edition’ model, where students looking to return books at the end of the term end up receiving pennies on the dollar. Oftentimes, as is the case with a recent textbook I am using, the upgrade to the later edition is largely to correct flaws and inconsistencies in the previous version. In software development, we call these bug fixes, not new versions.

That said, only since teaching have I realized the wealth of supplemental information that comes bundled with certain textbooks, including electronic versions, quizzes and study guides. And in some cases, publishing companies provide entire online environments for students and faculty to interact.

Where I teach, we rely predominantly on Angel, a low-cost alternative to, yet subsidiary of, Blackboard. This fact means that it becomes more difficult to synchronize material from the publisher with the course management system, since they seem to be competing with each other on some level.

Regarding this new alignment with Google and Pearson, I am curious to see where it goes and how, if at all, it will impact institutions as a whole.

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