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Old 08-31-2010, 07:20 PM   #1
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eBooks in Schools?

In his 24 August article for Library Journal, Eric Hellman wonders whether it's more important for each child to have an electronic reader or for every school to have a librarian.

http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/hom..._kids.html.csp

Two paragraphs that I found interesting:

"The entry of ebook technology into schools will only increase budget pressures on school libraries. Declining prices for ebook readers will soon make it economically feasible for schools to issue ebook readers to all of their students. Each reader would be loaded with an array of textbooks, reference works and reading material tailored for the student's grade level, in quantities that surpass almost any physical library. School districts will inevitably be invited by educational publishing companies to compare the cost of these complete content packages with the cost of operating a physical library."

"It's likely that ebook technology will be marketed to schools as replacement for print collections, backpack-emptiers, and cost-savers. But the available research shows that it's having sufficient staff—not sufficient content—that really works. Switching to ebooks will make sense for school libraries only when they result in savings of time and money that allow library staff to increase their focus on instruction and interaction with students and other teachers. "
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:06 PM   #2
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It'll be a while before ebooks are useful in an academic setting as more than an adjunct to traditional books. Right now, none of the ebook readers allow the habits that work best for study.

You can't open three books at once and flip between them. Annotations are limited, nonexistent in some readers and some filetypes. The tiny screens are not good for anything with pictures. Ebook purchasing & loaning is still troublesome--a school can't buy multiple copies of an ebook to loan out to students. Bookmarking within ebooks is limited, and there's no way to match the usefulness of multiple colored flags on multiple books.

Ebook readers, right now, are great for linear reading. They're *excellent* for "start this book at page 1, and keep going until you're finished." They're mediocre for poetry (the formatting limitations come into play), and awful for research that involves switching back and forth between pages, chapters or books.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:30 PM   #3
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...plus they're too fragile to give to the younger kids that would most benefit from what the existing models *can* do...
Part of the problem is the tech isn't there yet; the other part is that the money isn't there either. Not for K-12. And without a waiting market...
Eventually it will come to pass but "eventually" is more likely the next decade than this one.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:43 PM   #4
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I read an article a while back that US universities were issuing low cost ebook textbooks
Not this article but similiar http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2008/...nic-textbooks/

While small dedicated ebook readers may not be ideal, ebooks viewed on a computer are often not as difficult to switch between as their paper counterparts.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:25 PM   #5
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Elfwreck's pretty much said it. Library research always, for me, took over my table, bookmarked reference books lying scattered around. And a lot of my researched consisted of simply browsing the relevant Dewey-Decimal section of the stack shelves. Having to squeeze all that down onto a single 5" screen just won't do.

In addition, aside from PDF there just isn't an ebook format that comes close to handling the formatting needs of reference or textbooks. Imagine trying to duplicate a math textbook in epub.

Eric Hellman wonders whether it's more important for each child to have an electronic reader or for every school to have a librarian.

False dichotomy. Ebook readers don't replace librarians, they replace pbooks. Unless someone thinks all a librarian does is reshelve books.

As also noted, ebook readers are just way to fragile to survive most high school students.

Each reader would be loaded with an array of textbooks, reference works and reading material tailored for the student's grade level, in quantities that surpass almost any physical library.

I don't recall my library stocking textbooks, for the simple fact that every student already had his or her own. One of the primary efficiencies of a library is that it acts as a single repository from which one or a few copies of a work can be shared amongst a large number of people. What the above scenario suggests is replacing, say, the single, shared copy of the library's encyclopedia with a thousand or so individual copies installed on each student's ereader. How is that going to be cost-effective?

Conversely, no student needs to be walking around with the entire contents of his school's library in his backpack. Talk about overkill.

And what about library acquisitions? I shudder to think of a world in which libraries are locked into a single source. Imagine a teacher being told the library can't stock the book she's requested because the school board signed an exclusive contract with a different publisher.

I just don't see it happening.

--Nathanael
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Old 08-31-2010, 10:56 PM   #6
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EBook reading for now is like personal computer in the 1980s. PC is popular now but still not 100% for poor and needy students. And it takes 30 years to get us here. EBook reading/writing/teaching/researching/... technology need more "user-friendliness" and "teaching/researching-friendliness" than PC. Maybe we could hope for "Moore's law" to take effect, but it might not work because "user/teaching/researching-friendliness" need human understanding and consensus, etc., which takes even more time to accomplish.
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
It'll be a while before ebooks are useful in an academic setting as more than an adjunct to traditional books. Right now, none of the ebook readers allow the habits that work best for study.

You can't open three books at once and flip between them. Annotations are limited, nonexistent in some readers and some filetypes. The tiny screens are not good for anything with pictures. Ebook purchasing & loaning is still troublesome--a school can't buy multiple copies of an ebook to loan out to students. Bookmarking within ebooks is limited, and there's no way to match the usefulness of multiple colored flags on multiple books.

Ebook readers, right now, are great for linear reading. They're *excellent* for "start this book at page 1, and keep going until you're finished." They're mediocre for poetry (the formatting limitations come into play), and awful for research that involves switching back and forth between pages, chapters or books.
I so agree with this position. Having recently tried a couple of references I used for business on my K2i I can say the software/firmware is not even close to making these devices useful as a study/research tool. I often need several books open at once and no way any device, even my laptops and other systems work well either. while OneNote or even EverNote are essential tools for me when researching online, the reading software out there just does not work yet, well for me anyway.

But eventually someone will develop a solid study management app that adds reader software, not management and taking software, HWR, and dictation software to voice notes as well as transcription of those notes. But it's gonna be a number of years yet. I for one am surprised at this, but younger developers all seem to just want to code up new multi-media player front ends...oh joy, just what is needed to go with the 9999999999x10^99999999999 other multi-media players out there already. So these apps are going to come from someone who is already in the game like MS, whoever wrote EverNote and, I forget the other couple similar apps...a true lock-in app for Apple would be exactly such a bit of software for the iPads along with a 12" or even 14" iPad and Wacom. It would even seduce non-Apple users if it worked for study and researching. And definitely a math/science module would be a must have...I am sure Wolfram or PTC (the current MathCad folks) could really sell a lot of devices if they only had a device with a Wacom and some light weight version of their math-wordprocessor software was on the device...so maybe the bits and pieces are out there just not in a way to pull them together.
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:46 PM   #8
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Ectaco offer jetbook-Lite preloaded with School's Reading List
http://www.ectaco.com/jetbook-lite-school-list/
I read the article some time ago that several NYC schools already use jetBook-Lite for
K-12 classrooms and teachers give it to ESL students.

I don't think that it takes 30 years ... The future is already here
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:48 PM   #9
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I think for assigned novels or reading materials ebooks would be useful, but like it says above they wouldn't be the best for studying or review. As a student I often had to flip back and forth between different sections and books as well as highlight and bookmark text
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:59 PM   #10
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I think for assigned novels or reading materials ebooks would be useful, but like it says above they wouldn't be the best for studying or review. As a student I often had to flip back and forth between different sections and books as well as highlight and bookmark text
yes, I use the bookmark feature very often too.
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:48 AM   #11
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hello everybody....
Thanks you for sharing information....
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:12 AM   #12
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Don't know about ebook readers but iPad....
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Old 09-01-2010, 06:57 AM   #13
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I speak as a teacher here A book reader is a tool, certainly, but it's not the only tool---Kid Pix has been around for decades, but we still give them crayons; calculators have been around for ages but we still teach them how to add sums; Google Earth is very handy but we still teach them how to read a globe. You have to walk before you can run, with any skill, and just like we don't introduce the calculators right away because we want them to have the basic concepts of numeracy, we don't introduce the readers or other tools until they understand the basic concepts of literacy, and not all of those concepts involve the mechanical reading of words. There are concepts such as the way the pages go, that in English we read from left to right (this is not true for every language), that pictures or illustrations can offer textual clues to help us read etc. A lot goes on before they get to the point of reading independently.

Middle school, I can see a reader replacing a bagful of heavy textbooks. But primary school? I don't think so. They aren't gentle enough with technology, and they aren't ready yet either. As I said, teaching reading to little kids is not just about the letters and the words, it's about the whole concept of reading, and they do need a tactile experience for that, just as we still give them little plastic teddy bears to manipulate when they learn to count (in fact, there is a whole genre of educational product called the 'manipulative' that caters to this very purpose). A book is a manipulative. An ebook reader is a calculator. And the advance of technology won't change that.
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:40 AM   #14
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I teach middle school social studies and I have been using ebooks in my classroom for a couple of years now. I've been assigning Animal Farm, Frederick Douglass' Narrative, and Thoreau's Civil Disobedience for reader response and research papers. I do my best to make the text available in as many formats as possible: PDF, html, MP3 (from Librivox.com). The students can then access the material in a way most comfortable to them: on the computer, via print-out, checking out a physical book from the library, listening on a digital audio player, reading it on a cell-phone/ipod touch. Last year one of my students earnestly questioned why she had to carry so many heavy books when it would be possible to put the required materials on a single device. I have a disused Fictionwise EB1150 that I will attempt to make available for student use. We really need rugged devices, though.

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