Amazon Allows Educators to Self Publish Textbooks

In September 2014, Amazon introduced a new branch of Kindle Digital Publishing with KDP Kids. Now, Amazon is taking self publishing a step further and allowing educators to self publish their own textbooks and lessons using the Kindle Digital Publishing platform.

Last week, Amazon introduced KDP EDU, which is designed to produce, publish, and promote textbooks and educational content to students around the world. According to Amazon, KDP EDU gives educators a new way to prepare and publish different types of educational content, from textbooks to complex visual information. Utilizing the Textbook Creator, educators will be able to publish textbooks, course notes, study guides, charts, graphs, and equations. The Textbook Creator also has special features built in for students such as a dictionary look-up, notebook, highlighting capabilities, and flashcards.

I think that this new platform is quite groundbreaking. The digital classroom has never been more prominent, whether at the primary or university level, and Amazon is allowing educators to provide students with educational content in a much more efficient way than before. Not only will students have more educational tools at their fingertips, but they will have this at a lower cost as well. Digital textbooks are much less expensive than their hardcover counterparts and the capabilities that KDP EDU has can enable a student to get the most out of their digital textbook. In terms of efficiency, students will not need to purchase or create hundreds of flashcards for classes and instead, they can use the built in features of these digital textbooks.

KDP EDU could also be used as a tutoring tool as well as an instructional tool. Educators may publish educational content over standardized tests, such as AP tests, or the ACT or SAT, and students all over the world would have access to it. Because digital books are cheaper, this would save students the money that a physical study guide would cost. If a student is struggling in math, they could search through the KDP EDU produced lessons in order to find a piece of educational content that may teach them what their teacher in the classroom cannot.

There are a few downsides to the KDP EDU platform and it’s not necessarily with the platform itself. The problem that I see is the probability of educators actually utilizing it, especially older professors at the university level. If a professor has been teaching the same material in the same way for years, it may be difficult for that professor to imagine converting all of their teaching tools to this new format. As a new generation of educators comes into the workforce, they may be more interested in utilizing these tools, but I’m not sure if established educators will. Another downside is that the program is exclusively in English. This means any type of foreign language courses or educational content would not be able to utilize this new platform. Although this may change with time, it is currently a downside.

Although I personally always preferred a physical textbook while I was in school, I think that KDP EDU is an incredible idea. Students from all over the globe will be able to access these materials and the Textbook Creator is making this educational content so much more interactive than coursework that is published on a Word document. I think that it’s a real possibility that other independent publishing platforms, such as NOOK Press, could formulate a similar program in the future.

Until next week,

Debbie

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