ADVANCE HABITAT: That may sound like the name of some real-time military strategy game--and that may not be too far from what's happening. Two of Silicon Valley's digital publishing darlings, Kno and Inkling, appear to be going toe-to-toe with near-simultaneous announcements of major product updates and partnerships. And for educators and students, big publishers and the general consumers, such dueling announcements could be a good thing.
Kno struck first on Feb. 11 unveiling Advance, an "Interactive Learning Platform that enables publishers and authors to turn a flat file or PDF into an interactive eBook in minutes at no cost." The platform consists of three tools--Ingest, Book Enhancer, Assessment--which, respectively, allows a publisher to turn a flat file into a feature-ready eBook "in minutes," update new interactive elements "in less than a minute," and capture results from end-of-book assessments. Kno CEO and co-founder Osman Rashid used the sad case of Pluto's demotion as an example where quick changes can be made. (Hopefully this will make those drab course "readers" that we suffered through back in college a little more interesting.)
Inkling followed suit the following morning by unveiling Inkling Habitat, a "collaborative digital publishing environment for professionals" that was first released last year as a beta to a small group of publishers. Whereas Kno Advance facilitates the conversion process of e-book production, Habitat appears targeted more for larger-scale, collaborative efforts to design interactive content. In addition, this release builds upon Inkling's earlier announcement of the Content Discovery Platform, which allows its digital book content to be indexed by search engines like Google. Habitat will now also support content published under Creative Common licenses. (See full press release here.)
So whether you're a one-man team or a conglomerate spread across the globe, it looks like you may now have easier ways to get your work up onto those tablets.
For us EdSurgents, Inkling's product update is perhaps outshone by some promising partnership announcements. Pearson will be integrating Habitat into its existing infrastructure and vendor network, and other major publishers, including DK Publishing and HarperCollins, will be bringing their books on the platform.
What's more, the SF-based company will be working with 20 Million Minds Foundation (20MM) to "build and distribute 50 open textbooks to serve California's bill SB 1052," passed on August 31, 2012 (and which we covered here.)
Dean Florez, President and CEO of 20MM and retired CA Senator, tells EdSurge that "Matt [MacInnis, Inkling's founder and CEO] and I have been talking about this possibility of providing a platform for OER material years before Governor Brown signed CA's open source textbook bills." These bills call upon the state to create free digital textbooks for the 50 most popular lower-division courses, along with a California Open Source Digital Library to house the textbooks and courseware. "We expect the CA digital Library to start with Open Stax publications (Physics, Sociology, Statistics) with 3 more titles available by April 1st that are Creative Common licensed...I expect Inkling to offer the State of CA its platform and other such titles prior to the start of the Fall 2013," Florez adds.