Digital textbooks are electronic versions of traditional print textbooks used in schools and colleges. In addition to the normal features found in a conventional textbook, the digital textbook often provides additional audio and video resources to help the reader assimilate the information contained in the text. While digital textbooks have been around since the 1990’s, technological advances since that time have made the option of using digital textbooks more attractive than ever.
The earliest digital textbooks were more or less an electronic reproduction of print textbooks. The page displays were basically identical to the pages in a standard book, complete with any diagrams and photographs that would accompany the same text in a standard schoolbook. One important difference that emerged early on was the ability to search the text quickly without relying on an index or a table of contents. By simply using the search feature found in most of the standard operating systems of the day, it was possible to enter a word or word string and progress through each one of the results until the desired information was located.
Since those early computer textbook designs, the functionality of digital textbooks have expanded greatly. Currently, there are versions on the market that provide the ability to expand images, cue up audio recordings of selective portions of the text, and jump through the electronic pages with ease. Search features within this type of modern textbook are much more sophisticated than in years past. Some versions even offer the ability to display two separate pages from different chapters side by side for easy reference.
As the popularity of digital textbooks has grown, many textbook products also allow for the creation and submission of digital homework using an online interface. The student can even complete the homework while offline. All that is necessary is to save the completed assignment in a digital format incorporated into the textbook software. Once the student is back online, he or she can submit the digital homework assignment via email or through a protected network.
At present, there are several textbook publishers who are offering digital textbooks along with the traditional print versions. In some cases, a free digital textbook is included when any print copy of the text is purchased. The features contained in the digital versions vary from one publisher to another. However, as technology has made it more cost efficient to produce digital textbooks that are feature rich, texts that are ideal for use with junior and senior high school students are now sporting features that are much like those included in digital textbooks produced for use in colleges and universities.