This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 28, 2000

Textbooks on CD

33 Days until January 1, 2001

Students are carrying a heavy load these days. Yes, they have a lot to learn. And a lot of homework. The knowledge comes from the textbooks they carry back and forth to school each day. Those textbooks are heavy. Today's emphasis on education is causing many students to carry backpack book bags weighing over 40 pounds.

Doctors are raising serious concerns about the strain on developing bodies. Numerous articles have reported studies and outcries warning that young people risk dangerous permanent injury from the loads they are carrying. The doctors assert that the heavy books present a major health risk.

Today's students are highly computer-literate. They are quite proficient in the use of a number of computer programs, easily conduct extensive research on the internet, play a wide range of challenging games on-line, and use their computers as communications links to an ever-shrinking world. Computers are more prevalent in schools; some schools are quite well-equipped, even providing laptops to all the students. Other schools are scrambling to catch-up and, with anticipated funding, will join the parade to enable students to learn electronically.

Our forecast is that major textbook publishers will soon adopt new technologies. We expect textbooks to be published in CD-ROM format in the not-too-distant future. This process will enable students and teachers to work with much more current material in a form that can be easily updated. The doctors will be delighted, since the weight carried by students will drop considerably. The shift will be to relatively light laptop computers and a set of CD-ROM discs.

The key to the development of this technology is the availability of hardware, the laptops for students and teachers. Corporations, eager to make a memorable impression on students-their future prospective employees-will donate computers for classes and, in some cases, entire schools. Companies that have adopted classes or schools will go even further, equipping students and teachers to learn, grow, and operate in a new age.

Comments from our readers:

I just read your weekly trend alert regarding textbooks on cds. It reminded me of an article a colleague had recently told me about regarding studies of the effectiveness of reading on-line vs. reading paper-based information. The article apparently claimed that repeat studies have shown that people retain more and read faster when reading paper. If this is the case, how do you think a trend toward putting textbooks on cds would impact learning overall? Do you think the students would actually read the material on-line or print it out?

Thanks for your trend alerts. They are often thought provoking and I have shared them with many others.

Thank you for that interesting subject. I, too, have been concerned with the weight of my 12 year old son's book bag for some time now and its good to know I'm not alone. I continually ask him why he has to carry so many books home everyday and he says he has to. Even though he has accumulated paperwork, he cleans it out weekly but the weight doesn't go down. We bought him a back pack that has a pull out handle and rollers but for some reason it is no longer "cool" to pull the book bag around like a traveling suitcase. I can understand that. Anyway, the laptop and books on CD Rom suggestion is a good one but then we have theft issues or if they loose them could be costly. Thanks

Books on Cd are now here. The biggest problem has been the screen resolution. Our current computer monitors are just too difficult to read from. However, xerox is working with a technology that allows 300 DPI resolution on screen. This is as good as most printing presses. I recently saw a demonstration of the E-Book technology. Wow! I hope printers like myself can switch to printing the packaging for these products.

Last night's trend alert talked about a future trend of texts being published in CD-ROM. FYI - as a university professor I can tell you from experience that university texts have been published in CD-ROM for at least the past 2 years.

Some of my students prefer the CD-ROM version, others like the hard copy to write in the margin, etc. And some even buy both! Courses in management, marketing, and business law all have texts published on CD-ROM.

I am working with our local school district to bring some kind of reading aide for the DYSLEXIC children (mine included) but now I am thinking I need to seek more information and perhaps go to the publishers of the text books, and offer our district as a BETA tester... for text books on CD, with an add on program that can READ the books using the computer.
Connie Miller
Flower Mound, TX

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