Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Idea for New Book Format

   How many learning styles are there?
According to Flemming's VAK model there are three.

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Kinetic
   There are tests out there you can take to find out which one you're brain favors. Many people lean towards two. I've taken a few of these over the years and I tend to be fairly well balanced between all three.
   When an author writes a book, like a text book, how many versions do they write? Just one. Now, they do print multiple editions, but that is merely to add updated informations, or in some cases to sell more books by inhibiting resales. 

   How many text books cover all three learning styles well enough? I have yet to find one that even attempts to make an effort of equally incorporating all three styles. They usually focus entirely on one form or another.
   I understand that you can't exactly make a book talk to accommodate auditory learners, but something can be included in the book that can. A CD or DVD. many programming books come with CDs, Why not history books? Or literature? Or even math? The CD could be an audio version of the book. It could be listened too in the car, while working out, or while cleaning. The CD could also include videos for those kinesthetic learners to follow along. 
   Each book tends to focus only on those that learn well from reading. There are the occasional pictures, but not many. I suspect this is why some students like a certain text book while others despise it. The students that like it are likely of the same learning style as the author.
   This could explain some educational television shows, such as National Geographic and Nova, make use of all three elements of learning. There is always great visuals, a narrator or some form of dialog, and some even throw up a text summary for each section. I loved watching Bill Nye the Science Guy as a kid (I still do). They always had an enthusiastic person narrating with crazy visuals than a bullet point summary. 
   Why can't books do that? because authors are tied to the traditional meaning of the book. The ones that work really hard at it have great visuals. Part of me suspects that the only reason some of the science books have semi decent pictures is because the author is a visual learner himself and that is the only way he knows to describe what he is talking about.

   This would be a great way to incorporate eBooks. include the eBook with the textbook. This way those who need the feel of the book have it. Those who need the videos have it. and those who need the audio books have it. There is no reason not to bundle these all together to make a greater learning experience. A quick glance at developments is eReaders seems to indicate the technology is close to creating a consumer device that is portable and can handle all three learning styles. Until than laptops can make do, but i would like to see something similar to an iPad or Kindle form factor. Now that I think about it, iPads could handle this type of thing right now. We just need a compatible app (or browser) and the content.

   So here is what we need: a publisher that will bundle the content and authors that will collaborate. Obviously an author will write his book in the form learning style that he is best at. The publisher would then pass on the material to another person who has an auditory learning style to create the audio book, and then onto a kinesthetic and visual team to create the videos. These products are all packaged together and sold as one.
   I don't know about the rest of you, but I would get alot of benefit from something like this since my learning style is fairly close to being equally balanced. I suspect nearly everyone would benefit from something like this sense they would be ably to tailor their studying to their learning style. I hope to see something like this in the future. It doesn't seem too far fetched.

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