The Challenge of ebooks: Workshop one

Yesterday I was in London for the first workshop towards the new JISC funded project The challenge of eBooks in academic institutions run by Ken Chad. The two hour session gathered a range of stakeholders to discover what the priorities are for institutions around the creation, curation and consumption of digital books. Here are my notes on the workshop:

  • There are major accessibility issues with current ebooks from publishers who aren’t building accessible ebooks from the start. Retrofitting accessibility is costing the sector vast sums of time and therefore money.
  • Issue – how to support remote access to resources and staff 24/7
  • Issue – publishers are often public companies and only concerned with share price so unless they see “growth areas” things won’t change.
  • The future is for either very small collaborations and projects or very large. The medium ground is tough
  • We need a collection of real use-cases. For example, there is a need for ebooks that once on a reader device can be read without the need for “checking-in – feature of some DRM tools” as the reader may not always be online (mobility can have its challenges) or “I want to see all my groups notes from this reading”
  • There is a need to definite the entire system we are talking about, I suggested Craig Mod’s Post-artifact system as a starting point
  • A series of “myth busters” is needed, hat-tip to Amber Thomas
  • Innovation and disruption are needed asap and this won’t likely come from most publishers anytime soon
  • We need to make sure we focus on the goal of using digital technologies to help teaching, learning and research. What are the unique selling points of digital books that we should be using e.g. social features such as highlighting and note sharing for learning purposes
  • A more detailed report of the workshop was made by Phil Barker from JISC Cetis

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