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Brookdale receives national funding for e-textbook development

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Brookdale Community College announced it has received funding from the National Science Foundation to develop a reusable framework for educators to transfer their teaching materials to e-books and mobile apps.

The grant, part of the Advanced Technological Education Project, will fund Mike Qaissaunee, the engineering and technology department chair at Brookdale, for three years to work on the E-MATE project.

Qaissaunee said the grant was developed after an internal project to develop mobile content at the school was very successful, in order to "scale up" the school's delivery of e-content tools. The school will receive $899,360 — the largest NSF ATE grant ever awarded in New Jersey.

Brookdale, like many four-year institutions, does not have a mobile device requirement, but Qaissaunee said the school sees the need to make all online assets ready for mobile devices.

"All we're doing is we're seeing the amount of mobile devices in students' hands. Virtually every student has either a smartphone or a tablet of some kind," Qaissaunee said. "There's also this movement in higher education called BYOD — Bring Your Own Device — that a lot of colleges are trying to react to. … Can we make our existing content mobile ready, and then take that even a step further and start to create actual content that is targeting mobile devices?"

The first step in the grant is to take content from faculty around the nation and develop it into e-books and apps. Brookdale students and faculty will document how they develop the mobile content, as well as best practices. That information will be translated into creating a flexible framework that faculty and self-publishing textbook writers can use — with support — to move their own content and teaching tools to a mobile-friendly format.

"I think that framework is probably the most challenging part of the entire project, but it's probably going to be the most valuable if it's successful," Qaissaunee said.

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