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Bookshelf GPS adds interactive, personalized content to VitalSource’s textbook library

ICE Graveyard 21/07/2016 Anthony Ha

Personalized learning company Cerego is teaming up with VitalSource, the ed-tech arm of book distribution company Ingram.

VitalSource says its BookShelf platform already offers access to a library of more than 1 million electronic textbooks from 1,000-plus publishers. Now with Bookshelf GPS, it’s adding interactive content to those textbooks, tailored to individual students.

So for a student,  instead of just reading a textbook chapter and then maybe answering some questions at the end, you get a more personalized experience, where the questions are timed in a way to reinforce the key concepts so that you actually remember them.

As demonstrated for me by Cerego co-founder and executive chairman Andrew Smith Lewis, Bookshelf GPS allows a student to go through a textbook while toggling between Learn mode and Read mode. You can still read the book normally if you like, and then test yourself, or you can learn the material through Cerego’s interactive format, then jump into the book when you need to get more details.

“I think there’s a little bit of buzzword bingo right now around adaptive learning and personalized learning,” Smith Lewis said. “Personalized learning means delivering not a one-size-fits-all experience, but the right content at the right time to users, based on their individual strengths and their needs.”

Meanwhile, from an instructor’s perspective, it should be relatively easy to identify the important concepts in each assigned section of a book — Bookshelf GPS can even extrapolate based on the text that you’ve already highlighted.

Cerego’s technology can then create questions and other activities to help students learn those concepts. The order and frequency of those activities will vary from student to student, based on their performance — if someone’s struggling with a concept, they’ll keep getting quizzed on it. Once it seems like they have a strong grasp, the questions will be taken out of the rotation. And the instructor can track everyone’s progress via Cerego’s analytics.

“It turns out that according to the literature, the most effective way to study is little and often,” Smith Lewis added. (So it’s better to spend a 10 minutes a day with Bookshelf GPS rather than trying to cram it all in the night before the big test.)

VitalSource’s chief operating officer Pep Carrera said that Bookshelf GPS can be added to any textbook in the platform, and that his team is also talking to publishers about creating interactive content of their own.

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