I've just read a blog 5x5: 5 Thought Leaders, 5 Questions, 5 Answers and was not surprised to read responses to the question 'Technology versus textbooks: will there ever be a winner?'. Invariably textbooks were positoned as the loser although digitised e-readers/textbooks did get a brief reprieve.
I have to acknowledge my textbook phobia - I think textbooks position teachers as technicists - they deprofessionalise teachers by interpreting formal curriculum docs and in some cases result in teacher-proofed lessons. An important part of curriculum planning is deconstructing curriculum documents and rehearsing curricular practice via reflection and debate with oneself and one's colleagues. Too often, when I have asked what I am to teach or where the documentation is I have been handed a textbook. Having edited textbooks and written chapters for Higher Ed textbooks in a former life I also acknowledge that I once enjoyed wirting texts - not because of 'big head syndrome' (this was replaced with outrage when I realised how poorly practicing teachers are paid to contribute to textbooks) but because the act of writing the text really improved my teaching - it was a learning experience. To claim textbooks are dead is not only premature, to my mind it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Textbooks are useful beyond the days you are absent from class and need 'busy work' for students. In their current static state (hardcopy or digitised) however, textbooks are an endagered species and it is interesting to see how many publishers are reacting by positioning themselves as professional learning providers and/or eductaional providers... but that's another blog post.
What we need to do is revision/reinvent textbooks so they are not mere tools of transmission but tools that promote active leanring. The days of the commercialised textbooks that currently flood the market are numbered - what I would like to see instead are highly contextualised textbooks (given that this is a loaded term perhaps a new word is needed?) that teachers create, or more precisely, that teachers curate.
Of interest to many are the plethora of book creation tools now available. I am currently trailling Ginkgotree and its many intetactive functions. Importantly, Ginkgotree has a built in mechanism to address issues of copyright and royalties - this means that teachers can be assured that they are not inadvertently breaking copyright law.