Interactivity Comes To The Classroom – But Totally!

Kno, the well known educational software house and HMH (otherwise known as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) have joined up to provide a full packet of tools for kids and teachers.

I assume the writers of the American version of The Office intended this, but every time I see the name Houghton Mifflin Harcourt I can ‘t help but to think of those curious people in that show.  Makes it hard for me to take them seriously.

However, HMH is a very serious company, a major player in educational text books for the entire range from tiny, tiny people to grade 12, and now they have teamed up with the equally major player in this field, Kno, to provide schools and kids with a very complete system for electronic text books.

What has happened is that HMH have integrated some of the main features of Kno’s educational platform into their digital text book range, which will arm both the teachers, the school administration, and the kids with a wide range of possibilities when using their etext books.

Specifically, what it offers are the following possibilities:-

  • A search option within the eTextbook which allows students to quickly locate terms and subjects to maximize their ‘time on task’
  • Highlighting, a digital Journal and note-taking capabilities
  • Social sharing that encourages collaboration between educators and students and student to student
  • Interactive videos, Smart Links and 3D models that makes content more dynamic and engaging
  • Student learning tools including an interactive glossary, automatic Flashcards and Quiz Me features that empower students with the ability to test themselves within the book
  • Cross-platform availability allows for access and syncing of content across multiple platforms and devices
  • Kno Me learning analytics allow students to track their learning behaviors in each digital textbook they use. Students can even opt in to share and compare their stats with classmates

All of which seems to me to be potentially very useful for all concerned.   I am not sure how well digital learning actually functions in the class room, but from what I have been able to glean it does work.   This in spite of all the research showing that we learn almost nothing from watching documentaries on TV.  It seems we retain very little of what we see in TV documentaries.  But as the main point of this software is to make things interactive and bring students and their teachers into contact, it is thus not passive, as TV is, so it will probably work fine.

This is obviously a very total system of learning, and given the current move to all manner of digital extras in textbooks and classroom materials, it will obviously bring a whole plethora of new possibilities to teachers, and as such I find myself applauding this development – and wondering what next in this field?

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Do you have any thoughts about this approach to learning?  Is this enhanced and highly interactive form of classroom equipment useful or not?  Do let us share your thoughts on this.

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