How do you make a digital textbook more than just a glorified PDF on a tablet? Kno, the tablet textbook company started by Chegg co-founder Osman Rashid, is rolling out a variety of features to try to bring textbooks to life, including Facebook integration, automated quizes, an activity stream of notes. But an update to its iPad app today points to how digital textbooks can create entirely new experiences out of static notations. In the vido above, Rashid shows me Kno’s 3D modeling feature.
The 3D feature right now works only with models of molecules in chemistry textbooks. It converts the standard chemistry notations indicating how atoms are bonded together in a molecule into a spinning 3D model along the margins. These 3D models can be enlarged and rotated to give students a better visualization of how each one appears.
Of all the new features Rashid showed me, this one impressed me the most because Kno is taking the original text and making it a richer experience on the iPad. You can’t do this on paper. And you can imagine 3D models appearing for other types of 2D content such as blueprints, engineering diagrams, or other types of illustrations.
Kno is introducing a couple of other features today as well, video notes and smart links. Kno textbooks include a “journal,” which s a stream of your highlights, notes, audio notes, and photos. Now you can add video clips recorded directly from the iPad camera as well. The smart links also bring in more video into each textbook, but in context with what you are reading. These initially will be Khan Academy videos, but will include other educational videos online in the future.
Below is a video of the QuizMe and Journal features, introduced earlier this month.