The Multiple Ways Interactive Texts Beat Hard Copy

The Multiple Ways Interactive Texts Beat Hard Copy


Carl Braunlich, Associate Professor at the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, uses Top Hat in his Introduction to Hospitality class. 

In this article, he explains the advantages that an interactive textbook has over print—it can be kept up-to-date, and contain tests and other learning management features. While writing an interactive textbook requires a different mindset, owning it should still be for life.

Curation has become a potent force in corporate training and university education. The internet and the resources it brings to the learning process have put hard-copy handouts and textbooks in the rearview mirror for many instructors. While an author a “curated interactive text” still prepares written content as in the past, he or she now collects digital assets such as videos and galleries, and integrates them into the document. Written content is now turbocharged with the ability to immediately read linked documents, review company websites, and listen to podcasts.

The following is a sample excerpted from a curated interactive text required for a foundation course at the hotel and restaurant program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. It includes links to 13 digital assets including company websites, an academic case study, an article from the New York Times, a searchable hotel rate page, a YouTube video, a TripAdvisor page, and a LinkedIn page.

A hotel concept emerging over the past decade is the super luxury eco-friendly boutique hotel. A benchmark example of this design and operations vision is the 62-room Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Napa Valley, California USA. Refer to a video describing the original conception of this resort. The namesake of the original real estate is Bardessono Vineyards. The property was designed and developed with sophisticated environmental initiatives that were awarded LEED Platinum Certification, one of seven hotels in the world to be rated at this level. According to an academic case study, the property has overcome the potential conflict between demands of the quality of guest experience and the conservation of natural resources. The property has received national press for its unique hanging gardens. It also has an intriguing marketing relationship with Lexus to intertwine the ecological visions of both companies.

The current owner of the property is Ashford Hospitality Prime, a real estate investment trust (REIT). Ashford’s strategy as a hotel owner is to generate revenue per available room (RevPar) of at least twice that of the average hotel in the U.S. The rate and availability page of the resort displays, with input from the reader, the room rate structures and differential between the summer high season and the winter low season. The property’s TripAdvisor page displays real time feedback from current guests. Remington Hotels is the management contractor for the property. Nanci Sherman is the property’s General Manager, with degrees from the Harvard Business School and the Culinary Institute of America. The Bardessono resort property is an example of a viable business combining luxury hotel keeping and ecological sustainability.

This same text in a hard-copy textbook would list source citations and spell out URLs as end notes. The curated interactive text as above includes hot links to all materials, making the information immediately available to the reader. For the corporate trainer or university lecturer, internal resources such as documents or videos stored on a company hard drive or university Google Drive would also be available to the reader of an interactive text.

Moving away from hard-copy texts requires some instructional design changes. Hard-copy texts, once in print, cannot be updated until the next edition is printed. But a curated interactive text can be updated regularly by the author at any time, useful when the topic changes frequently. Looking at the example text above, ownership and management of a hotel property can change, additional internet resources can become available and existing links can go dead. The ability to immediately update content brings unprecedented ability to curate information so that it is up-to-date.

A curated interactive text also needs a home. A hard-copy text resides in a file cabinet or on a bookshelf and its access is secured as long as there is physical possession. The same cannot be said about an interactive text existing in the cloud, accessed by readers with credentialed logon information. Although the author of an interactive text no longer needs a traditional publisher, he or she still needs the service of a content host. The marketplace for the hosting of curated interactive texts is still developing, but there are market leaders coming to the front of this evolving field.

Ownership and lifespan

A curated interactive text can be used internally within a business organization, an educational institution, and can be distributed for sale as would a hard-copy text. A professional hosting company offers a number of services to the author and to the students. In the the development stage of the interactive text, a hosting company should offer plagiarism checking and retention of the copyright by the author. During post production of the interactive text, they should offer robust and uninterrupted access to the text content, and lifetime access to the material after initial purchase by the student.

I am currently working with Top Hat, a teaching management software company that offers Interactive Text services. The author of an interactive text retains the copyright to all content the author produces within the intellectual property agreement with Top Hat. The company uses an industry-leading plagiarism checker to ensure no infringement on others’ copyright. An author of an interactive text with Top Hat can also integrate class discussions, essay assignments, and test assessments into the body of the text itself to create a complete learning management platform for her students.

Lifetime access, once a student purchases the content, is critical to the success of the curated interactive text paradigm. A hard-copy text, by its tangible form, gives lifetime access to the purchaser. The curated interactive text can do even better, by allowing lifetime access to the contents and all of its future revisions and updates by the author. Top Hat as an enterprise stands behind the lifetime access concept with their phrase “one time buy for lifetime access.” There are no “new editions,” because as the author updates the interactive text, the revisions are pushed out to the purchaser automatically.

With the increasing availability of internet information, the speed of broadband, and the presence of professional hosting services that understand the interactive text paradigm, I believe interactive texts will continue to develop in corporate training and university education.

Republished from LinkedIn Pulse with permission of the author.

Photograph: Guillén Pérez, CC BY-SA-2.0

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