The Death of Textbooks, the Dawn of Learning

Every learner has unique potential, whether as a musician, a scientist, a salesperson or a philosopher. And when we engage each person as an individual, there’s hope that every person can fulfill that unique potential. It’s a powerful notion that many people talk about, but few people find a way to achieve. We think we’re on the way to making it real. Inkling puts the student at the center of the learning process, rather than the textbook, the professor or the university.

When we set out to design and build the first version of Inkling, we thought deeply about the student experience. We sought to engage the natural curiosity each person has when presented with something new. After all, that natural curiosity is part of what makes us human.

Do you remember how excited you were at the beginning of every semester? That gut feeling of excited anticipation at the possibility of what lies ahead. The fun of choosing classes. Deciding what new things to learn. Discovering other friends taking the same classes. Everyone, it seems, starts out with that genuine interest. This semester, we say, I’m going to get straight A’s. Yet people too often lose that excitement just a few weeks into the semester. Studying becomes a chore instead of a passion. What changes?

The textbook-centered, professor-centered learning process takes the fun out of the journey. To truly enjoy our work, we need the autonomy to explore the topic at hand and chart our own course to intellectual satisfaction. That’s not to say that textbooks and professors aren’t important players in the process. To the contrary, they’re hugely important: we’ve all had a favorite professor. But our friends are important, too. And even though we get up every morning and go to lecture, the real learning happens between classes, and between friends. That’s what guided and inspired us as we designed Inkling. There is, after all, more to college than the textbook.

Today we offer a small but growing selection of titles, and that’s just the beginning. For now, they’re enhanced digital textbooks, window dressing on the past, but harbingers of the future nonetheless. We’ve got a vision for how this will become even better than it is today, and we’ve got some pretty amazing things coming.

To start, we’re providing everything by the chapter, so that students can buy just what they need, just when they need it. Big, heavy and expensive textbooks are not part of the future of learning.

We’re also taking all the great media that lives on the web and in other places, behind a cumbersome login screen, and putting it right into the book’s content. Movies. Animations. Interactive quizzes. Guided tours. You’ll never have to flip to the back of the book for the answers. Beyond just being simpler, cheaper, and more efficient, every Inkling title is full of more interesting and engaging ways to learn new things.

As we continue to develop Inkling and the content that lives inside it, you’ll see ever more interactivity, ever more flexibility and modularity, and lots of great things to help you navigate, explore, and use the content more effectively. What you see today is just the tip of the iceberg. And what lies beneath is an impressive, engaging, and downright exciting iceberg, I promise.

Everyone at Inkling is working tirelessly to redefine the future of learning content, and, indeed, the very future of how people learn. We’ll be blogging regularly about our thought processes, our creations and, of course, our mistakes. We hope it lets you come along on the journey with us and help us do things even better. We love hearing thoughts and ideas from everyone who cares enough to share them.

So stay tuned, stay engaged, and as always, stay curious.

And thanks for using Inkling.