Re-inventing Textbooks Through A "Choose Your Own Assignment" Model Based on Student Learning Styles

Imagine a living, breathing, dynamic textbook that offers different assignments for each individual based on their learning styles, allows for student-created work to be posted and featured based on accuracy/creativity votes and having students all around the world discuss content and share resources in real time through an integration with Google's new social networking service Google +.  Imagine all of this in a new dynamically changing interactive living 21st Century textbook ecosystem.


I would like to use the Blackboard/Collaborate platform as an engine to bring students and teachers around the world together to make this happen.


We must change the way that students support their learning outside the classroom.  In the 21st Century, we now have the tools to revolutionize the homework and textbook experience.  I would like to use We Collaborate as a platform for launching this pilot program to create an entirely new kind of textbook; one which caters to Gardner's multiple intelligences and students' learning styles.  The major difference between the traditional textbook and the interactive learning textbook ecosystem that we will create using the Blackboard/Collaborate platform are the student centered assignments based on an individual's learning style, the ability for students to help create the content they will be learning and the real-time interaction with a global audience of students and teachers utilizing the "Hangouts" and "Huddles" featured in Google +.  

Imagine watching a YouTube video on the World War II and discussing its significance with a student from Spain, Germany and France who are watching it with the student in real time.  Imagine studying for a test on the Revolutionary War with a group of students from Great Britain, New York and California.  The possibilities for learning are endless and appealing to students.


The Blackboard/Collaborate platform will serve as a launching pad to bring together revolutionary teachers and students who want to flip the current model of schooling and re-design the primary extracurricular form of learning:  the textbook.  As Tech & Learning's 2010 Educator Leader of the Year and a man who is driven by passion and the belief that everyone has untold  and untapped ability for growth, I would like to bring together a global audience of teachers and students to make the Elastic Interactive Textbook a reality.  Please join me in this cause.


If anyone is interested in receiving updates on this idea, please press the like button on this page and then sign up on the Interactive Textbooks Email Updates Sign-up Form.




Brian Mannix

Great Neck South Middle School


Views: 281


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Comment by Brian Mannix on July 20, 2011 at 7:07am
Great idea Carla.  If anyone is interested in receiving updates, please sign up on the Interactive Textbooks Email Updates Sign-up Form  Also, all of this is meaningless, if we don't win the contest so that we can get Blackboard/Collaborate and flesh this idea out through the course of the year, so please share on your FB accounts and twitter and ask people to like this post  Let's make this happen!
Comment by Brian Mannix on July 20, 2011 at 6:44am

Thanks for your comments, Joe.  It sounds like you've got a lot of experience working with this type of idea.  If we are able to win the contest and get Blackboard/Collaborate, I hope you will join our weekly discussions so that we can move forward toward something concrete.  Spread the word!


Brian Mannix

The Power of Ten:  Discussing Education's Future

Comment by Joe Blum on July 20, 2011 at 5:52am
A contributer to the TEFL China list asked for input to this same subject, but working with executives, who nearly always want to be taught with something other than a standardd textbook. My answer was:
"The only thing I’ve done successfully with a similar group was to expect each participant to come to class with a particular question in mind. We started the class with all questions voiced and me taking down the key issues underlying all (if applicable). That was followed by me asking them to make suggestions on how so-and-so might solve/address/phrase . . .

Whatever suggestions were made, I added alternatives for different scenarios and finished with a request for that person to take the time to jot down constructive thoughts on the issue.

Of course, after a few weeks, their questions dried out and I had to make up scenarios myself, but since by that time I knew what their general needs were, my scenarios were always well received and all enjoyed being asked their advice. A few times it was necessary to allow them to negotiate a point in Mandarin, but I insisted that they jointly explain the issue so I could give them suggestions on how to express these thoughts using English."

That system was definitely non-standard and successful. Brian's idea will be non-standard and successful. That process, mixed with my use of the E:P:N critters during private online sessions (to both "save face" and simulate a diverse group) has served me well for many a years. I'll gladly pitch in to whatever needs doing on this project. I've learned to lead but I'd much rather follow.

Joe Blum
Comment by Carla Wimmersberger on July 19, 2011 at 10:29pm
Sounds like a wonderful idea and I would love to see future information on what comes of this project. This sounds like it would be a great fit for our learning community. If you have an email list for updates, please add me to it, Thanks! Good Luck!
Comment by Matthew Gibson on July 18, 2011 at 8:46pm

Hello Brian,


Could you email me at I would love to talk to you more about this. Actually, at the moment, I am in Japan and am trying to set something up based more around oral history with my friend`s grandfather (who is a veteran of the war) along with veterans from Taiwan (who, mainly, were conscripted in to the Japanese Army) and veterans back in America. Plus, I think the project sounds great. So, I would like to learn more and perhaps use this during our summer camp which begins August 1st.


Thank you,


Matthew Gibson


Comment by Joe Blum on July 5, 2011 at 12:11pm
Brian, I like your approach to utilizing Gardner's multiple intelligence theorem. It is what I grew up with as well, along with several others along the way. If that  ever becomes too cumbersome, feel free to check out and use my E:P:N theorem, which is the learning "from" stable atoms., Global E:P:N Learning Foundation Inc, might be a good alternate source for your non-standard materials.  Just food for thought. Joe
Comment by Frankie Kam on July 5, 2011 at 7:43am
Self-directed learning is the way to go! Go for it Brian!
Comment by Jeff Mehring on July 3, 2011 at 9:50pm
This would be a really great project. Count me in!
Comment by Dana Sirotiak on July 3, 2011 at 10:31am
Count me in as well!
Comment by Peter Suchmann on July 2, 2011 at 9:24pm
sounds great....i would love to help you with this project..count me in!

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