Features of the Future Digital Textbook


In lieu of writing, we drew things…



Intro to learning node: in this case a class on Shakespeare

Intro to learning node: in this case a class on Shakespeare

Provides historical context. Features include chat, place for notes, student directed content (student can choose which area(s) to explore)

Provides historical context. Features include chat, place for notes, student directed content (student can choose which area(s) to explore)

The play. Features include chat, video, AI scaffolding

The play. Features include chat, video, AI scaffolding

One of 3 cognitive engagement activities: Here, students watch the scene they just read.

One of 3 cognitive engagement activities: Here, students watch the scene they just read.

One of 3 cognitive engagement activities: Here, students discuss the scene with their peers.

One of 3 cognitive engagement activities: Here, students discuss the scene with their peers.

One of 3 cognitive engagement activities: Here, students write an essay about the scene they just read.

One of 3 cognitive engagement activities: Here, students write an essay about the scene they just read.

One of three assessment activities: writing assignment

One of three assessment activities: writing assignment

One of 3 assessment activities: Students do a performance

One of 3 assessment activities: Students do a performance

One of 3 assessment activities: Students do a creative writing activity

One of 3 assessment activities: Students do a creative writing activity

Finished product

Finished product

Ada’s Morning


The bird chirping started again. “Dammit, Adelaide Rosario Dawson,” she told herself as she pressed the “postpone” button on the wall clock again, seeking another eight minutes of rest. Ada’s ambition was to wake early to review her notes from the last tutor session before her morning shift at the scan-out desk at the Folger Library, off the Mall. She wallowed in her foolhardiness—she should have slept in rather than activating the snooze again and again.

As she rushed out the door with last night’s cold pizza squares dinner for breakfast, and down into the Metro Mag Lev, she tore off the thermals with her notes at foot of the stairs.

Ada was looking forward to her work trip to the UK Union in two weeks. She was taking a group of museum volunteers to the Shakespeare trail and she would gain her the next level of expertise. The highlight for her would be being on stage at the Globe, a perspective she had only watched through record performances.

Her paper notes darkened in the heat of her hands as she tried to review them in the shuddering light through the windows on the train. The wrinkles and smudges started to look like the manuscripts she would soon be checking out to visitors at the Folger. The Capitol South stop arrived.

Choose Your Adventure: Ada’s Education


7:42 pm. It had been a long day, but Ada arrived at the learning pod and exchanged nods with the other knowledge consumers who also preferred the evening shift. Today was a big day. While she normally preferred to study while commuting from Georgetown, Ada chose to come into the pod so she could attempt to level up without distracting the other commuters. Two weeks before, Ada had been notified that she was eligible to demonstrate the learning objectives for L3 Shakespeare, especially good timing because she was planning a trip to Stratford the following week and was hoping to visit the sites reserved for L3s and above.

She grabbed a charged SmartSpace by door, found an open seat on the couch, adjusted the level of ambient noise on her SmartEars to medium, and used SmartEyes to navigate to her learning space through a series of eye movements. Once in the space, she began by reviewing the work from her L2 students. She watched a video of a virtual chat recorded a few hours earlier and annotated it with comments, indicating both when she agreed and disagreed with the iModerator. She was grateful that the system generated transcripts and translations because while she had her L6 Chinese badge, she was just starting her L2 Spanish badge and would have had difficulty following Nina’s contributions. Before switching to her next task, she made individual notes in each of her ten apprentice’s files and reviewed the comments from the other L3 knowledge leaders to see if she agreed or had anything else to add.

At 7:55, her SmartEars chimed, indicating that her review was about to begin. When she signed up for her L3 badge she elected to demonstrate mastery through discussion, so she was soon joined by three L4 knowledge consumers who began evaluating her understanding by asking questions about the papers she had submitted and reviewing footage of cohort discussions. Ada hoped that Chris wouldn’t be on the panel, but knew that she had no control over the matter: panels were convened through a random selection of L4s who happened to be on-call at the time.

If you want Chris to be on Ada’s panel, turn to page 63.
If you don’t want Chris to be on Ada’s panel, turn to page 72.

Exploring the Spindles


“Listen to many, speak to a few.” The quote immediately struck her as both a revelation and a cause for anxiety.

Badging “Shakespeare’s Reality” has been a holistically enlightening experience for her. Her “structure” setting on low, Ada’s been jumping around the TOC, diving in at the various node heads and exploring the hyperlinks within, tapping between experiences inside the nodes. So as not to get too lost, she has avoided links that take her inter-node. Her cousin Brady loves to do this, but she finds that even with the handy “spindle map” navigation, she still gets lost and loses focus. Besides, her subscription to LearnVerse is node-specific. Cross-node linking costs extra.

And her explorations have been rich. With her “author width” set to wide, she’s been discovering the rich array of content authored by other users. These are often quite useful and seemingly always more creative than the usual spindles and subs created by the sponsored authors. She’s particularly enamored with the marginalia of a user from Portland, whose comments are all in the form of insightful yet lewd limericks.

Recently she found a rich vein—a collection of Shakespeare lines, speeches, and scenes which sync up to one’s private-side system. The API scans email, texts, searches, e-book content, recent purchases, etc. and offers handy Shakespeare quotes and scenes based on your life. These arrive by text, email, and even phone calls with recorded quotes or actors citing The Bard. She heard a rumor that someone had a group from the “Enacting Shakespeare” badge perform a recommended scene for her right in front of the restaurant where she had 6:00 reservations. That’s what you get for having your “transparency” set to high.

Just now, 8:00 am at the kitchen table, while exploring the Hamlet/Advice branch, she stumbled on a branch authored by student last year. That’s where she found “Listen to many, speak to a few” from Polonius’ famous advice to Laertes. This has sorta been her motto. Ada is shy and thoughtful. She doesn’t like standing out, doesn’t like being visible. However, an original performance module is required for her badge. That, or authoring a minimal spindle. And she just doesn’t have the time for that. It’s time to give back—to “speak to many.” And she’s drawing a blank.

Time to fire up a brainstorming sesh. Ada navigates to the commons and posts an invitation. Turns out three folks had the time to help out. They all synced up in the video chat with whiteboard enabled and got to work. They were all familiar with the usual battery of brainstorming activities. In about 40 minutes, they had all worked out a few good options for Ada’s performance. Also, one of the folks (a guy from Peru!) offered a link to a great acting coaching spindle from his Theatre Badge days. Ada would have to pay a small fee for accessing an outside node, but it’d be worth it. And it would count towards her badge. Cross-node exploration always does.

So this is what she will do. She will use those little figurines she printed from her “Artifact Manifestation” badge and shoot that speech from Polonius. She will do the voiceover and submit the whole thing to the Share Spindle. There, others will likely add music, filters, or maybe include it in a larger piece. From these, she will choose her favorite and publish it. Her scene may be helpful for others’ experience of Shakespeare as they explore the Shakespeare Reality spindles. Who knows, maybe some brave soul with their transparency set to full will get her piece as a text message as they prepare embark on a journey….

Ada’s Settings:

Language: English
Prior Badge Analysis: On
Structure: Low
Transparency: Low
Author Width: Wide
Analytics: Temporal, Physical, Content

The Calibans at Night



Mary: Ada, you’re good for a Calibans meeting?

Ada: What? I’m just coming home. Sorry. What?

Mary: Just you’re supposed to be one of the Calibans and we want to do a quick round-up on leading the discussion tomorrow. Dai and Sasha are good to go. Can you meet now?

Ada: I’m US-East, I was just headed to bed.

Sasha: You shared your location stream with us :)—you’re still at least 1500 meters from home.

Ada: Yeah, I’m out, but I’m about to walk in the door.

Mary: I know it’s late, can you give us 10 minutes just so we’re on the same page.

Ada: Same page…yeah, makes sense. I’ve just been out, and I’m a little spacey.

Sasha: Lightweight.

Mary: Can you see block text?

Ada: No, I’m reading from my hand-tat. I’ll be in front of a projector in 10. But I can tachiyomu if need be.

Mary: It’s just a short piece. It’s that main speech in Act Three. Tossing you a cursor now.

Ada: OK, got it, yeah.

Mary: We have your vitals and searches on that. We all had a bit of a heart-race on the “I cried to dream again,” but you had a peak right from the start and looked like you were really into it. It looked like you ran the first two lines four times.

Ada: Yeah, well, it just hit me hard for some reason. Where I grew up…well, whatever. My mother used to tell me not to be afraid, that the house was full of noises. Used to freak me out a little as a kid. Now…I kind of miss the noises. I live in new construction. Thin walls. So I have to choose between hearing my neighbor the aspiring opera singer or have phones on and block out everything. I saw Sasha peaked late on that phrase…

Sasha: No, I stubbed my toe. It was a false read…

Ada: And then did a lookup on the “twangling instruments” bit?

Sasha: Just wondered whether “twangling” was a normal word and was used contemporaneously or in anything modern.

Mary: I was manipulating the semantic net you put together. I like this bridge to “bangling” as well as the link to 20th century references to “twangy” country-western music. Anything worth teasing out there.

Tach: Sorry, excuse me for a moment. Can you help me and tell me the context for the “bangling” reference. It is not in dictionaries. And I have no access to this book Grace?

Sasha: Sending it now.

Tach: No, sorry, please no. I have no rights.

Sasha: Just one page then?

Tach: No, no page, no verbatim, please. Can you maybe read to me.

Sasha: Voice? Seriously?

Tach: No, nevermind. I will ask library to get rights so I can see.

Mary: Anyway, I found the “twangy” bit more interesting. He uses “twangling” in Shrew as well?

Ada: Sorry, y’all, I am still five minutes away from a screen, I can’t see the visualization of the semantic net.

Mary: You don’t need it, really. Basically, he uses “twangling” as a variant of “twank” which is the same as the modern “tweak.”

Sasha: So Caliban was a tweaker! I like him even more now…

Tach: Also, Twangdillo was used by many people in 1700s in English.

Mary: Cite?

Tach: Sent.

Mary: OK, good, so I want to make sure we are opening up an avenue of discussion here that no one has covered, and I like the country-western music theme. I did a lit review and no one seems to have picked it up. One of the badge requirements indicates “original insight” and I think this would count.

Ada: Actually, I know two of the sempai on the badge, want me to do a quick consult.

Sasha: Already Quorad it. Figured it was a good way to lay public claim to originality. Nobody has found any prior art so far, and it’s got over 1200 looks to date.

Mary: Ada, if you don’t mind, it might be good to see if there’s a good way to present it.

Ada: Just a sec, checking profiles, looks like I’ve got four friends with the badge. Let me just…“Thanks for the microconsult. Looking to present twanging in Tempest and Country-Western. Thoughts?” I’ll CC y’all if I hear back. OK if I provide them with some gradient permissions on our logs?

Sasha: OK with me.

Tach: Me also.

Mary: Yep, that’s OK. Ada, do you think we can work in the house sounds.

Tach: Maybe a Raymond Williams City and Country thing?

Mary: Yeah, how would you frame this?

Tach: I am sorry. Now I have to go to a meeting.

Mary: Can you go subvocal?

Tach: No tat, no subvocal. Very super old-school. I will check the log later. If you give me jobs I will do.

Mary: Thanks Tach. And can everyone go over our log and elect elements of our work for our portfolio.

Tach: Bye-bye everyone!

Sasha: Are you looking at the Google Alert from our discussion?

Mary: I have them turned down, is it any good?

Sasha: It’s constructing a search engine results narrative. It’s not bad, should I incorporate it in our log?

Mary: Can you just summarize it?

Sasha: It is already summarized.

Mary: I mean, like a human would.

Sasha: It does it better. It has my voice and face profile for a video version. We can always edit it together.

Mary: Let’s give it the badge.

Sasha: Google: It’s everything you’ll someday know!

Ada: I may be slow on responses. Elevator.

Mary: And then there were two…

Sasha: Actually, I’m going to have to go in a little while too. Real life and all.

Mary: Are you coming to London.

Sasha: Yeah, the Moscow People’s University is distributing crowdsourced travel funds among those with the Shakespeare L4 and above badges, as long as they also have the Open Collab badge. I’ve done an audit, and I think there are only three of us, so I should be good to go.

Mary: If we get the badge.

Sasha: Actually, I should be able to double-dip on our assessment tomorrow. Will you co-endorse?

Mary: Hold on. Have you already elected? Oh, OK, I see it…and…done. I gave you my full collaborator endorsement. I’ll attach evidence and context in the morning.

Sasha: You rock!

Ada: Can I get in on that too?

Mary: Yeah I’ll take a look when I get the chance…

Ada: Thanks. Anyway, I’ve been polling my personal archive for recordings of my old house, if we want to use it for some background audio. Also I’ve crossed reviews that mention “twang” and pulled up a playlist we can link out to as a sidenote in the doc, for fun and elucidation.

Sasha: I’ve already pulled in some of the other narrative assessments that reference this section. There are a lot of them. I will see which we might want to reference.

Ada: I’m at a keyboard. I’m going to bang out a text narrative to tie together our portfolio. I am a write-geek.

Mary: Why do you think we asked you to join our group? Thanks, Ada. Nothing like just-in-time production.

Ada: What makes the world go round. I’m going to run silent for a bit here to get some work done.

Sasha: You mean sleep!

Ada: Ha! Yes, that too. But I’ll stim up long enough to get this out to you tonight. Mary, you were going to sift our log for presentation permissions, yes?

Mary: Right. And Sasha, everyone but you has done a permissions and copyright check. Can you do that, like now?

Sasha: Not now, but within five hours. Good?

Mary: Yep, that’s fine.

Ada: Night. Catch you all live on tomorrow.

Mary: And hopefully in the flesh in London next month.

Sasha: Except Tach. I’m not sure he’s really a human.

Ada: So few of us are these days.

Ada palmed her connections closed. Emergencies only. She could still bang out text with the best of them. The OLED tattoo that made up her palm and forearm curled itself into a random image, a scripted quote from her namesake: “In this, which we may call the neutral or zero state of the engine….” She didn’t feel like writing. The buzz of the evening and the physical presence of old friends still had her excited. She heard a party somewhere in a nearby apartment and dialed in noise reduction. As she reached out to the keyboard, Sonify noted her vitals and her intention to write and constructed an appropriate playlist, heavy on the Ko Mak and German Cajun Chill bands like old Boozoo Bajou. But she found herself aching for the creaky sounds of her childhood home, and the voice of her mother.

She reached to a drawer and pulled out a ragged, dog-earned paperback with a missing cover. The title page read The Tempest and in the corner, in blue Bic ink and a neat hand, her mother’s name: Augusta King.

Ada in the Rare Books Library


Ada strained to lift the canvas box containing the heavy folio from the shelf. She had been working as a page at the Folger for months now, retrieving books from the vault and delivering them to the old people upstairs, but she had never given them more than a passing glance. She had read about folios and quartos while studying for her badges, but all she really knew was that there were sometimes different versions of the plays she had read and that the books here had the same names. The folios were big and heavy and had a distinct smell she couldn’t quite place.

It was cold in the vault—inexplicably cold, Ada thought. She balanced the box on one hip to zip her sweater. As she did, she lost her balance, slipped off the stool, and dropped the large box on the floor. Ada’s pride hurt more than anything else, so she quickly dusted herself off, looked around, and opened the box. What she found inside was alarming: a thick wooden board that appeared to be the book’s cover seemed to have been detached. Some pages were loose, and others appeared to be attached only with threads. She stacked the pages neatly, placed the board on top, replaced the call slip, and closed the box before placing it on her cart.

When she got upstairs, the reader who had requested the book was waiting patiently by the desk. Trying to look calm, she slid out the call slip and handed him the box. He carried the box back to his desk, opened it carefully, and lifted the board. Caught, she thought. Instead, she was surprised to see him place the board on one of a pair of foam wedges. (She’d heard this setup called a “cradle,” but she wasn’t sure why.) He then removed what remained of the book and set it on the desk.

She tried to slip out unnoticed.

If she had stayed, she would have seen him pick up a magnifying glass and carefully pull back the leather on the book’s spine. And she would have been baffled.