Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

The Hegemony of the Printed Book in Tertiary Education: A Concept Under Challenge

Tony Burch.

The function of traditional printed books within tertiary education is changing. Education is a user-pays product, and competitive pressures ensure students are given greater voice in the types of learning resources provided, with the evolution of electronic and communication technologies allowing student learning resources to be made available in a myriad of ways.

Thus a traditional printed book may be an inflexible tool in a dynamic environment.

Students are empowered by learning choices at speeds agreeable to their environment and without ties to geographical boundaries. They can take enrolment dollars to wherever they perceive they get desired education and resources. International student enrolments are a rising proportion of Australian tertiary institutional income, meaning that educational resources must be effective for diverse student groups. This paper does not debate the efficacy of this form of evolution but accepts that this is a logical starting point from which to consider the future of ‘books’ in a tertiary environment.

Further to research in Burch T. (2002a ‘POD Trials in the Australian Tertiary Education Sector’ in Cope & Mason eds, New Markets for Printed Books, Common Ground Publishing, Melbourne) on the relationships between university print facilities and the future of books in tertiary education, this paper seeks to provide insights into the role that ‘books’ serve in the new world of electronic learning resources. The ‘book’ is playing a diminishing role in this scenario with publishers shifting emphasis to the electronic support provided to students and instructors who adopt texts, and hybrid texts and custom products are emerging. The ‘book’ must now compete, rather than dominate, for its share of the resources market in the tertiary sector.


Tony Burch  (Australia)
Lecturer, Researcher, and Consultant

Career Senior manager in the Graphic Technology Industry, post-grad sessional lecturer at Deakin Business School, consultant and course developer to RMIT University International Centre of Graphic Technology (ICGT), and small-business mentor to Victoria University. Also commenced a Masters by Research (RMIT), thesis on Knowledge Management with books and their future derivitives as an emphasis. Member of the RMIT C-2-C Committee and have published 2 research papers re books for that committee.

  • Books
  • Tertiary Sector
  • Education
  • Evolution of learning resources
  • Hybrid Texts
  • Customised Book Products

(Virtual Presentation, English)