Are Schools Ready for e-Readers?September 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: e-reader, literacy, textbooks
Posted by Maia VanBeuren
Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman’s Subjects Matter’s chapters on textbooks seem to mention the weight and cost as some of the biggest limitations of textbooks. The first thing that came into my mind was the use of e-readers as a possible solution to that. Now, it is likely that I thought of this because I have been debating whether or not to buy one for months now, but after some quick research, it seems that I am not alone in this consideration.
In fact, a school in Clearwater, Florida just outfitted over 2,000 students with Kindles that are personally tailored to their course load. Instead of having to carry around multiple textbooks, plus any paperbacks they are reading, they only have one electronic device.
So e-readers are lighter. What else can they do for students? Most of the information I found relates to Amazon’s Kindle , but I can imagine that other e-readers have similar features. With the Kindle, the user can make notes as they read, look up words in a built-in dictionary, highlight, share via a built-in integration with Twitter and Facebook, and have English text read aloud. It can be synced with up to four other devices, meaning that the user can pick up where they left off on their personal computer.
Also, as Cool Cat Teacher’s blog post points out, imagine being able to update textbooks without having to throw all the old books away.
A Science Daily article claims that an e-reader is engaging for students and make encourage even the least motivated readers to interact with text. And the reactions from the students in Clearwater are positive so far.
Not everyone who has tried using a Kindle academically has had a positive experience. Amazon’s pilot program with MBA students resulted in most students enjoying the Kindle for personal use, but preferred paper books for academic use . And keeping all those Kindles organized, identified, and located is a huge task for schools (as Cool Cat Teacher points out).
And that’s before you even get into challenges that I barely understand, such as pricing and availability, formatting for different devices, and other copyright issues.
However, considering Daniels and Zemelman’s claim that students today read too often from textbooks and would benefit from reading a variety of sources (such as books, newspapers, magazines, and websites) the perhaps there may be a place for an e-reader in schools. Teachers could still use a hands-on paper textbook in the classroom as a reference, but student could have an electronic copy to use as a reference at home as needed. It would also be a great way to include all these other sources of reading. Students would be able to write all the notes they wanted as they read, and the school wouldn’t have to worry about the books being defaced. They would only have to remember to bring one device in, rather than up to a half a dozen heavy books.
So I wonder, is it too soon or too absurd to start thinking about integrating e-readers into the classroom? Do the positives out-weight the negatives? Can an e-reader reach students better than normal paper text? Or will it just add a new source of drama to the classroom?
Daniels, H. & Zemelman, S. (2004). Subjects matter: Every teacher’s guide to content-area reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.