Grant Will Allow for Development of 'Smart' Annotated Online Textbooks

A tablet computer rests on a pile of textbooks

Students who annotate digital textbooks could have the chance to use new software that can assess how they learn and suggest more effective study techniques, thanks to a project created at the University of Colorado Boulder, Rice University and the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

Funded by a four-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the effort will allow for the development of “smart” annotated online textbooks to gain a better understanding of a particular learner’s state of mind and grasp of subject matter. The study participants will use online textbooks provided by the nonprofit, open-source textbook publisher OpenStax that is based at Rice.

“While traditional textbooks are designed to transmit information from the printed page to the learner, contemporary digital textbooks offer the opportunity to unobtrusively gather information from learners as they read,” said CU Boulder computer science Professor Michael Mozer, the principal investigator on the project. “With a better understanding of a learner’s state of mind, textbooks can make personalized recommendations for further study and review.”

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