E-books

Taiwan's Policy to Promote e-Books

The Office to Promote the Digital Content Industry, an agency that helps develop an industry worth tens of billions of US dollars, was unveiled on September 29, 2009. The establishment of this agency is testimony to Taiwan’s intention to develop its e-book industry. Xu Qing-qi, Director of the Office to Promote the Digital Content Industry responsible for the development of the digital content industry, and Vice President of the Institute for Information Industry, notes the government plans to invest NT$2.134 billion over five years to develop Taiwan’s digital content industry, with the aim of establishing 2-3 Chinese-language e-book content exchange centers by 2013. To construct the infrastructure, the Office has decided to adopt the e-PUB international format standard and establish e-PUB planning taskforce. Once a standard format is decided, the digital content in the e-book platform trading centers may be readily exchanged, making it easy for carriers such as e-readers, mobiles and MIDs to read the content as long as files are converted.

Development of the digital publishing industry is also one of the Office’s top priorities. The Office hopes that it can create sufficient value for Taiwan’s digital publishing industry to play a major role in the world by 2013. Other goals include creating a society in which people enjoy reading and leading the world in the publication of Chinese-language materials. In the digital publishing industry chain, Taiwan has a competitive edge in the R&D of e-paper and readers. However, there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of the content of e-books, content trading centers and innovative applications.

by Xu Qing-qi, Vice President, Institute for Information Industry, Taiwan, Compiled by Hu Xiu Zhu

Shifting Economies and New Commercial Models in Education

Cengage Learning, one of the largest textbook publisher in the U.S. announced two weeks ago that it would begin renting textbooks to students at discounted rates, Here’s an informative article from the New York Times.   And, here are a number of responses from NY Times’ readers. I anticipate this is the first of many adjustments that publishers and distributors of educational materials will need to make in order to deliver a valuable service to students. Indeed, this modification addresses student’s temporal, calendar-driven, demand for text books and their increasingly strained budgets. But it fails to individualize the content for students and teachers alike. Different classes, different disciplines, different schools, different students ultimately warrant different content and materials---and while I think that this is less prohibitive at the university level as it is easy for professors to supplement class readings with articles and journals and online essays---I believe every student, kindergartners to graduate level, would benefit from a more thoughtful curriculum.

Here are some examples of localized American initiatives:

1) In Arizona, teachers are encouraged to create lesson plans from mixes of online resources, via the New York Times.

2) At last year’s Ted Talks, Richard Baraniuk of Rice University talked about his vision for open sourced learning content----I think this is where we are going, hopefully.  Take a moment to watch a clip from that talk.

Living Lab Grythyttan - A Story of Taste

The small Swedish village of Grythyttan in the municipality of Hällefors should most likely have been a non-distinct place sleeping quietly many miles from the rush and life of Stockholm. It used to be a mining town and its population is just around 1200 people, but instead of disappearing into complete obscurity the town has turned into one of the most exciting and entrepreneurial projects in Europe today. Beginning in the seventies Grythyttan has developed an expertise in the field of food and taste and it has been the goal to become one of the leading centres, when it comes to the world of resturanteering and cooking. Covering all aspects of the meal experience this specialisation has been a great success and it has allowed Grythyttan to go even further. Today Grythyttan has become the site of a truly unique university campus, where the students are able to follow such courses as Chef and Culinary Arts and Meal Science. As a part of the larger Örebro University the campus in Grythyttan offers the only education of its kind in the world and there are programmes ranging from bachelor degrees all the way to PhD level. Simultaneously there has been a significant increase in fresh business developments that are related to the new profile of the village. Grythyttan

But the huge success of this educational innovation has posed Grythyttan with some real challenges. The number of students is going to increase from 450 to 750 and housing and communication will have to be more thought through. On a grander scale if Grythyttan is to maintain its position as a leader in its field, the university and the region must be able to collaborate with institutions and businesses from other regions and countries.

Living Labs Global and A Taste of Media have worked closely with the university, the students and the village council to find a way to meet the challenges, and in the fall of 2007 Interlace-Invent launched the mStudent project in Grythyttan. The whole village has gained seamless access to the internet and Interlace-Invent has made communication between students and the university possible on a whole new level. The technology allows students to use a free SMS service and the student organisations are now able to push information to all its users. The university can make announcements to the students on this platform and administration of such things as applications will be swifter, making communication open and easy.

House of Meals

It has been the ambition to make the mStudent Grythyttan a user-driven project, focusing on the needs and interests of the energetic and creative students. In collaboration with the important student organisations Living Labs Global located the areas where communisation between the students could be better and it has resulted in a livelier social climate, where all the extracurricular activities have seen an increasing interest.

By engaging in this dynamic evolution of new mobile technology, Grythyttan has become a part of the network of European cities, universities and innovative firms that are know as Living Labs. These centres of interactive design are interconnected and as a unit they function as a market place between some of most influential cities and regions in Europe today. This means that the free student services in Grythyttan are now not only supported by a professional infrastructure – they also have a common interface with a wide range of universities in the region and across Europe. At the heart of Grythyttan campus stands the impressive House of Tastes, where eager students are seeking excellence in their art. The large building was the Swedish pavilion at the Expo in Sevilla in 1992, and it is only fitting that it gets to represent Sweden once more, as Grythyttan joins the avant-garde of European innovation.