Intelligent Textbook Helps Students Learn


One of my biggest pet peeves when studying is when I come across a word I don’t know, and the context of the sentence, paragraph, passage, what have you, is completely lost on me.  As biology student this occurrence is opt to happen more than I would like to admit (but really, how am I supposed to remember everything the Krebs cycle does when I learned about it 5 chapters ago—throw me a freaking bone McGraw Hill).  Worse yet, looking up the word in the glossary isn’t the fastest or most graceful of maneuvers and, more often than not, the glossary definition just provides me with more questions.  With all this confusion I turn to the only resource people of my generation truly believe in: I Google that shit.  Unfortunately, with Google means the Internet, and with the Internet means I have the world at my fingertips: Facebook, music, movies, shows, 9Gag, funny cats; hell I’ll even throw Twitter into the mix.  All of a sudden, researching the Krebs cycle, and returning with my newfound Rosetta Stone of Google knowledge to decipher the next four or five paragraphs sounds until I have to do it all again sounds a lot less alluring.  And I really, truly, like learning.

Then I heard about a prototype for an intelligent textbook that will help students learn, doesn’t sound too shabby right?  Well, it’s not; it’s anything but.

While still in development, the IPad app Inquire boasts many innovative techniques that will help students get through those thick textbooks.  With its technology students can read through the ebook just as they would a normal book, however, if they are confused on a term all they have to do is click on that word and the definition pops up to the side.  Students can also highlight passages to add notes or to send it into the software, which will then list common questions associated with the topic that the student can choose from to ask, which Inquire will then answer.  Students can also ask the text questions they may feel too embarrassed to ask in class.

In a January 2012 study, the AI Inquire program trumped both its paper and electronic counterparts on both helping with homework and quiz scores.

The popular first year biology book, Campbell Biology, is the only book currently synced up with the software, and even that is not all the way accomplished.  With a team of 18 biologists, The Inquire crew plans on being able to finish the textbook by the end of 2013, which bodes well for biology students in the future.

Maybe I’m just an idiot with a severe attention problem, but this Inquire sounds like something I could really go for.  If only I had an IPad.

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