Two major textbook publishers, Pearson and McGraw Hill, have invested in Inkling, a company that makes interactive textbooks incorporating video, audio, and interactive quizzes. You can also view 3-D images. The companies have also agreed to make some of their own titles available on Inkling’s service. Inkling plans to have 100 textbooks available by Fall 2011.

With Inkling, which is only customized for the iPad, students have the option of purchasing an entire textbook at up to a 35% discount over print, or a single chapter. Inkling is innovative because its e-books are not just digital versions of print books. For example, a book about music includes the audio of a Mozart concerto along with explanations that scroll on the screen while the music is playing.

E-textbooks are available in growing numbers, but most of them are digitized versions of their printed forms. Making the texbooks interactive draws on the current technology and adds a new dimension to education.

Inkling is just one of several outlets being used by Pearson and McGraw Hill to sell digital textbooks. They also participate in CourseSmart and are developing their own proprietary formats for other tablet devices in addition to the iPad.

Interactive textbooks are also available from other publishers but are a limited resource. But we can expect to see interactive e-textbooks in greater numbers very soon.

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