Discovery Education (a division of Discovery Communications) is taking a big leap forward in the realm of digital textbooks. Say hello to Discovery Education’s “SCIENCE TECHBOOK"!
This new digital textbook has a suite of AWESOME features for science students (and teachers) in elementary and middle school grade levels, according to Discovery Education’s website.
In the past, traditional science textbooks have severely lacked the ability to engage students. Science is one of the most “hands on" classes in school, but science teachers have had very limited resources from their textbook to use for furthering class study and participation. Science labs and real world activities are one aspect of learning science that students find to be fun and exciting, and that is where the Science Techbook excels compared to ANY other science textbook. Discovery Education has basically taken the entertaining and interactive scenarios found in a typical science classroom, and turned them into digital counterparts that are sure to spark curiosity from younger students.
“The Discovery Education Science Techbook has reimagined the learning process, delivering unique and interactive features updated in real-time that aren’t possible with a traditional textbook,” said Brett Felten (Director, Techbook partnerships, Discovery Education).
What are some of these features? After reading through Discovery Education’s website and press release about the new book, I’ve picked a few features that stood out to me as game changers in the digital textbook race.
Video library: Video modules are fairly common in digital textbooks; however, a full fledged video library made specifically for the textbook and its readers is rare. Discovery Education’s website explains that the video library will contain segmented video clips and full-length videos. Also, thanks to the fact that Discovery Education and the Discovery Channel are both operated under the same parent company, students will be very excited to hear that the Science Techbook offers video clips from T.V. shows like Planet Earth and Mythbusters!
Leveled reading passages: “Leveled reading" means that the passages of text accommodate readers in all supported grade levels, making it easier for students who may have difficulty reading scientific literature that is often confusing for young learners. While leveled reading is not new, for a textbook to have the ability to instantaneously adjust reading passages to fit student’s reading capabilities is definitely a worthwhile feature that many teachers would appreciate.
Interactive glossary: This is a feature that is starting to gain momentum in some digital textbooks and it comes as no surprise to me that the Science Techbook has this functionality. Basically, an interactive glossary is exactly what it sounds like. Hopefully, never again do students need to perform the arduous task of flipping their textbooks pages back and forth to find information from the glossary in the back of the book. Having an easily accessible and digital glossary will give confused students a quick way to get back on track with what their learning and provide them with multimedia content that keeps them entertained and helps further their understanding of the material.
Virtual labs: Interactive flash-based modules that pertain to the concepts in the textbook. Flash-based activities are not exactly new for students, but I think it will be exciting to see Discovery Education’s take on this type of content given their incorporation of external media and characters like those from the Discovery Channel.
Hands-on labs and activities: Printable PDFs detailing safe, fun in-classroom labs and activities are provided by the Science Techbook.
5-Minute Prep: An interactive breakdown of a given concept that helps students and teachers get a quick start on the material.
Additional features for teachers include an assignment builder and an assessment manager. Discovery Education is actually performing “webinars" for school administrators and instructors to watch to help familiarize them with the Science Techbook’s features.
For instructors and parents who may be curious about what kind of learning structure the Science Techbook uses, the book is based on the 5 E Learning Cycle Model; which includes the following stages: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. This model is based on an inquiry approach to learning, and has been used effectively in science classrooms since the early 1970′s.
Be sure to check out Discovery Education’s website for more detailed information regarding the features and capabilities of the the Science Techbook, as there are many more than just what I have covered above! Also, school administrators and teachers can find dates and topics for the webinars concerning the Science Techbook at Discovery Education’s website.