I am a Blackboard hater. At various points I run back to check out Blackboard (academic teaching software) to see if it really adds value and I leave it on the side of the road. It does things I could do with a variety of web services, like Scribd, Box.net, Facebook, WordPress, or any number of other platforms, but less well and with some irritation. I am sure there are some who could convince me it is better than I think it is. Bring it on. I would like to be converted.
The latest idea I have seen for potential use in the electronic classroom is social reading. And I am a bit excited about it. The idea is that we could share an electronic book and the text would be set up in such a way as to easily annotate with all kinds of marginalia. In this way, all of us who are studying the text could see what others have to say. As a professor, I love the idea of being able to evaluate the comments as a component of grading. Social reading would be a great way to smoke out the readers from the non-readers. In addition, I tend to think that being able to see what fellow students have written “on” a text would lead them to make interesting connections of their own.
The book is changing and so is what we can do about it. We will see more change in the way we use books in the next 5-10 years than we have seen in the last 500.