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Instructing Readers to Read

There are some innovations in textbook design in The Discipline of Organizing, most notably:

  • The large proportion of the text that was factored into discipline-tagged endnotes
  • The use of content transclusion in glossary entries. To ensure that the glossary definitions are correct, they are transcluded from the definitions where they appear in the text rather than being copied or rewritten.
  • The completeness of the “hypertexting” of explicit and implicit references in the ebooks; if it looks like a link in TDO, it acts like a link. For example, you can follow links from headings in the table of contents to the identified section. When you follow an endnote superscript to the note, if there are bibliographic citations in the note, you can follow them to the bibliography, and if there’s a URI or DOI in the citation, you can follow it to the source on the web or in a digital library.

But how would a reader of the print TDO know about any of this? People are pretty familiar with endnotes at the end of chapters, but no textbook I know of has ever factored out 1/4 of the book into disciplinary supplements,  The disciplinary tagging is explained in the book preface, but do students read the preface to a textbook?

The other two innovations aren’t explicitly mentioned anywhere. Maybe hyperlinking from the T of C is common enough, as are cross references, so perhaps we don't need to explain those.  But citation linking is rarely as completely implemented as it is in TDO. As long as we're using ebook readers like IBooks and Kindle, there isn’t any way for the reader of the printed or ebook to ask for an explanation or guidance in how to take advantage of these design features of the book. So we have to develop some kind of instruction for readers,

I know this concern about whether readers can make good use of a book is not a new one. People in “media studies” or “literacy studies” are well aware of it. See Serafini, Frank. “Reading multimodal texts in the 21st century.” Research in the Schools 19, no. 1 (2012): 26-32

“As the complexity of the texts readers encounter increases, decoding, as a separate skill, becomes less an indicator of comprehension and should be viewed as only one aspect of a reader’s ability to navigate the multimodal landscapes encountered. In addition, non-linear structures, hypertext, visual images, and multimodal compositional structures need to be navigated by readers if they are to be successful in today’s educational settings.” (p. 28)

So how can we best instruct people how to make good use of TDO in print and ebook formats? I would appreciate any suggestions... Maybe we could make a movie showing how to use the book? But how do we inform readers that it exists?

--Bob Glushko

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