IKEA delivers a Blueprint for Augmented Textbooks

IKEA delivers a Blueprint for Augmented Textbooks

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about QR codes and how they could be used in textbooks over at edcetera. Now, IKEA came out with a pretty nice example of a similar concept with its 2013 catalog.


If you replace the pictures of furniture with let’s say an anatomy it gets really interesting. Personally I think it is even more engaging to take a mobile phone and use it as a virtual x-ray machine. Wouldn’t it be great if you could scan the picture of a human body and then look inside it, maybe seeing how the heart beats etc? Because you actually do it by holding a device in your hand, hence combining tactility and interactivity, learning gets much more engaging than just tapping on a glass screen.

As it is hard to accurately estimate how long it will take until tablets replace physical textbooks in the classroom, I think it is worthwhile to create models that can leverage existing technology like iPods, smart or feature phones to enhance classic textbooks.

Looking at the pace and rate of smartphone adoption in the years since the first iPhone launched we can assume that most devices have all the functionalities needed to use them as multi media devices. Connected via WiFi to the school or university network, students don’t need to use their data plans in order to access the digital content on the web. It could also be hosted on servers located on campus.

Publishers could pretty easily add digital content to their printed textbooks by adding QR codes to the specific pages or, like IKEA, create apps that know which digital content to show on which page. It would also be possible to augment textbooks that are already in use by sending out sticker sets with QR codes (or anything that triggers the app) with a description where to put them in the book.

Digital content will be created for the new e-textbook formats, anyway. So why not use this content to make the learning experience with classic textbooks better as well?

Picture from IKEA

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