By: Rotem Segal, Helicon Books Project Manager
Digital books are becoming more and more sophisticated and attractive in the last two years. The big announcement of the IDPF on October 2011 included the development of the first version the EPUB3 standard. This standard starts a new era in the digital books industry. The new standard support advanced capabilities such as video, audio, interactivity, animation and more. This is a major breakthrough in the digital books industry. The immediate meaning of EPUB3 ebooks is that books will become more and more similar to interactive computer games than to printed books as we know them today.
However, such a progress in digital books technology raises some questions among educators and printed books supporters who express their concerns about reading decrease among young generations in favor of interactive content which can be found widely on TV, Internet, etc.
According to these educators approach- in today's world there is a rich diversity of interactive content and there is a rich number of electronic devices to present it, so there is no need in making books more interactive. Educators that support this approach claim that too many simulations during the reading process prevents children from developing their imagination, self thinking and their criticism ability. In addition such innovations prevent children from getting concentrated and in today's world there's not much left for children to be concentrated from.
It is important to present such opinions when coming to talk about the progress and the consequences of innovative digital books and their influence upon society. However, it is important to be familiar with EPUB3 new capabilities and observe them not only on fiction books but rather on textbooks.
Advanced interactive textbooks with sound, video and animation can stimulate the student's curiosity, his passion for learning and his willing to invest time to go deeper to a specific subject. Each picture, drawing or word in the interactive textbook can integrate a surprising information which can be presented in a fascinating interesting way using the advanced features of EPUB3, for example- in a textbook which present a dog chatters its tail- a click on the tail can present a whole new information, a video, or an exercise. The tangible act of clicking the tail stimulates the child's curiosity and his wish for knowledge, thinking and learning. Interactivity can take place in any textbook field, especially in elementary school, science, literature, art, history, etc. Another important feature of the EPUB3 textbook is the Media Overlay- or "speak aloud". When you use an EPUB3 reader and wish to read an EPUB3 textbook - the reading system marks a phrase, word or sentence while reading it loudly. This capability can be helpful during reading lessons or for foreign language learning. This feature may also be useful for students with learning disabilities.
New technologies adoption can be an advantage as well as disadvantage, it depends how you use it, in what matter, what do you wish to achieve, and the dosage.
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