Open Discovery Space

Recently in this month of June, it was revealed that the global US based encyclopaedia Britannica was to publish a further 365 non fiction e-books based on school curriculum structures and subjects. The giant tomb of written knowledge already boasts a collection of a thousand e-books in its extensive collection, with every 15 pages of each book being freely available for all via the website ‘ebooks.eb.com’. The 365 digitised books will be age appropriate and will facilitate interactive guided learning with high definition colour illustrations designed to engage the young reader. The e-books will cover a multiplicity of topical subjects including, animals, maths, astronomy, sports and plenty more. Moreover, the e-books will offer an optional service for bilingual capability. Users can view the on-line texts either in Spanish and English, or English only. By ensuring information can be accessed and viewed in different languages, the linguistic barriers that deter many people from reading certain material can crumble, whilst also managing to extend its membership across a global scale. It is a viable option that Britannica can further offer alternative languages for different countries and heterogeneous ethnic cleavages, making the service a truly multinational venture in digital learning if went ahead.

The main crux behind Britannica’s initiative is to deliver high quality texts for educational institutions, in the hope of aiding classroom learning, independent learning and research. Many facets of seamless learning for interactive or individualistic study can be achieved as the books are whiteboard ready making them ideal for classroom use. Students and young children can grow and strengthen their transferable skills such as teamwork, and obtain research skills that allow them to gather information methodologically from a variety of on-line and paper based sources independently to draw thoughtful inferences from it. Moreover, in this emerging modernised age youth are becoming digital natives, acutely familiar with electronic devices. Britannica’s e-books can thus enhance young people’s existing knowledge and enlighten those less technology savvy teachers. Additionally, the e-books can be accessed 24/7 with any web connection by students, parents and teachers, thereby solving the location and time hurdles that obstruct easy access to books. The texts can be read or transferred on a variety of devices, such as PCs, tablets and smartphones. Students can also password protect any notes they make and save them for later use, and also download or print material.

Britannica Digital Learning (BDL) provides high quality, reliable classroom products to help educators and maps solutions to educational challenges. BDL’s material can be viewed on multimedia learner response devices to make learning a creative and easy experience. This development is hoped to encourage teachers and students to be creators and active participants in the fast changing digital landscape that is quickly embedding itself into the education environment.

This advance is of importance to ODS, as it focuses on how e-learning materials can be used to revolutionise traditional education and classroom structures, enhance student performance and make access to knowledge inclusive on a global and European magnitude.

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