I’ve been reading a great deal lately about the future of electronic books. What will they look like?
There are some interesting examples from PDF files to books with hypertext links to embedded video to augmented reality. Just do a search and you’ll find all kinds of early examples of what electronic books might be. There really isn’t a pure definition of what it might look like or what it might be.
Even if we agreed tomorrow what an electronic book should look like, will we be able to replace libraries and classroom collections quickly? Hardly!
I was playing around with yet another online QR Code generator last night. It’s called SmallQR and you just type the URL that you want to shorten and it does its magic. Visit the SmallQR website here.
I was pondering what might happen with the existing literature collections should we come up with some sort of new electronic book. Surely, they will lose their interest in favour of the flashier alternative.
Then, it dawned on me. Maybe they don’t have to. Maybe we could update them ourselves.
It would actually be kind of an interesting research project for students. As they read the book, why not have them also do a little research to go along with their reading. The research might be a dive into Wikipedia or a YouTube Video or a Flickr image. Could they not bring the book alive for others to read by taking their research URL and creating a QR Code? That code could then be printed and taped or pasted in the margin of the book for the next reader to enjoy the full experience.
I see two immediate benefits – the second reader would get the complete electronic experience; the first reader would dig deeper into the book that they would have otherwise. Win – Win? If nothing else, we could extend the life of an existing book by adding that new dimension. Could this be extended to their own writing? We know from blogging that success comes from hyperlinking. Could successful paper writing add a new dimension by having a QR Code to take it beyond the paper?
How about in the music classroom? Imagine sheet music with an attached QR Code that would play a video or a music clip to immediately help the learner.
It’s a great deal of work but I think it’s an interesting concept that might turn out to be helpful to breathe some life into older materials that will end up competing for attention alongside a contemporary, glitzier version.