OUI’s Mobile e-Book Wins Prize of Excellence At International Conference in Cambridge MA

Edna Tal, the Director of the Center for Technology and Distance Education at the OUI, accepting Award of Excellence at the New Media Consortium Conference in Cambridge, MA.

The Open University of Israel’s mobile e-book won a prize of excellence at an international conference organized by the New Media Consortium hosted by MIT in Cambridge, MA.,  June 12 – 15, 2012.

What’s the OUI – the largest textbook press in Israel – even doing in the mobile e-book business? “This is the future,” proclaims Edna Tal, the Director of the Center for Technology and Distance Education at the OUI. “Our vision is to provide students with access to all course materials and textbooks using any mobile eReader.”

This is no small challenge. The distance learning methods of the OUI are based on individualized study using printed textbooks, written and produced especially for its students. The books are sent by mail to 46,000 students upon registration.

“Digital books are the wave of the future”, says Mrs. Tal. The OUI has been successful, she explains, by continually using the latest technologies, from videos to the Internet, to make access to higher education possible for everyone in Israel. Digital books continue this tradition of technological innovation.

“We wish to give our students diverse forms of learning materials so every student will be able to choose the form that suits his learning style – printed books, digital books, audio books, or all three.”

The OUI piloted the digital book program in 2011, at first providing students with devices with mixed results. The technology team then switched their approach, focusing on the content, and letting students use the devise they were most comfortable with. Research showed that students were enthused and stimulated by the variety of learning tools they had at their figure tips when using digital textbooks.

The e-textbook project and the research results were presented by Mrs. Tal at the New Media Consortium conference. The OUI e-textbook project was selected by the judges’ committee for their award of excellence in the “Interactive” session. “We’re very proud of the award,” said Mrs. Tal, “especially because the conference focused on innovative technology in education. It’s one more indication that we are doing the right thing.”

To view the e-Book Presentation, click here.

While students will contain to receive printed textbooks for now, Mrs. Tal sees many advantages in the transition to e-textbooks, for both students and OUI. “Students will be able to carry all books from all courses together in one small, light device,” she explains. “Also, we can edit the digital books quickly and enrich them with video lessons and interactive multimedia. Plus, producing and mailing textbooks is costly. Moving to digital mode can save us money.”

For more on Open University’s Distance Learning, click here.