I recently listened to Jon Udell’s interview with CJ Rayhill, CIO of O’Reilly. They talked about O’Reilly’s Safari U project which allows college professors to compile chapters from various books into a custom book for their own classes, available in print and online.
I’ve written before about what I wanted in a college textbook. I wish I had had Safari U in college, though I was in the business program and Safari U may not have many business texts. Being able to search textbooks would have been incredible.
They also talked more generally about technology in education, including Jon’s vision that most lectures could eventually be available online, to be viewed at the student’s own pace and schedule. Classroom time could be reserved for group projects and class discussion, never for one-way lectures.
This is actually how BYU teaches its introductory accounting class, Accounting 200. Professor Norm Nemrow’s lectures were available on CD-ROM, with video, audio, and notes all synchronized. It was great to watch these on our schedule and at our own pace. (Most students downloaded a plugin that played the video at 2x speed!) The class only met 6 times that semester, and the in-person lectures were more anecdotal and conversational.