Sunday, May 24, 2009

Market for textbooks

The Washington Post has a story on the educational software company Aplia, founded by Paul Romer: An Economist, an Academic Puzzle and a Lot of Promise. It makes a number of interesting observations about the design of the textbook market, and how interactive software that gives students immediate feedback, and lets them participate in experimental economics style interactions, complements the traditional textbook and lecture style of instruction.

"Students seemed to like Aplia's engaging and easy-to-use software, as well as the feedback. Professors liked Aplia even more. It allowed them to leverage the grade-grubbing instincts of today's college students to get them to do homework -- but without having to spend countless hours reading and correcting the assignments. They also got reports from Aplia identifying which students were having the most trouble with the material and which concepts were stumping the class as a whole. "
...
"By relieving instructors of the considerable burden of reviewing homework assignments, the technology makes it possible for universities to require professors to teach more students, either by increasing class sizes or the number of classes they teach. More important, it frees instructors to spend more time preparing for class, working with individual students and even doing their own research. "

It may also allow publishers to circumvent the secondhand market for textbooks, as the software license can be separated from the book.

HT: Greg Mankiw

1 comment:

"Books" said...

It may also allow publishers to circumvent the secondhand market for textbooks, as the software license can be separated from the book.Wow, a new way to use copyright law to transfer wealth from poor college students to academic publishers. What an innovation!