Ereaders in Education

High tech guys want low tech for their kids.

6 October 2014

From the New York Times:

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.

Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.

Read the rest right here.

Then check this out. Again from the New York Times:

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

Here ya go.  Take a gander. We have a saying in California- All these high tech guys send their kids to Waldorf schools.


Are Tablets the Solution for Latin American Education?

28 August 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

The past few years have seen global surge in tablet adoption not only among professionals but also in schools throughout the world, particularly in Latin America. The surge has been considerable in underdeveloped countries, driven by rising incomes, high-speed internet connections, digital content consumption and the efforts of education NGOs (one of the most popular example being the One Laptop per Child program), plus some specific government initiatives in markets such as Brazil and Colombia.

. . . .

In Latin America, statistics about internet usage reveal growing interest in online content. According to ComScore’s 2013 Latin America Future in Focus report, the region has the fastest-growing Internet user population in the world. Social media consumption is extremely popular (5 of the top 10 most engaged markets with social content worldwide are Latin American) and online advertising is on the rise, with phones and tablets accounting for a considerable percentage of digital traffic.

. . . .

This growing presence in Latin America is not limited to the professional market. According to a report by Ambient Insight, the rate of growth in the mobile device usage is likely to increase over the next four years. The report argues that apart from rising individual purchases, the surge in spending in mobile devices will be driven by major digitization efforts rolled out across the region by public education systems.

In the meantime, research centers are raising public awareness of this growing trend and starting to analyze it in depth. The Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) produced a report on the pros and cons of tablet education in schools, pointing out that the use of digital devices in classrooms is indeed becoming a major trend in current government policies on digital inclusion.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

How E-Reading Threatens Learning in the Humanities

17 July 2014

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The student was angry. Why hadn’t I mentioned there was a shorter version of the book I assigned for this week’s class? After brashly announcing she had unearthed an earlier article by the author (“Same thing, right?”), she instructed me that anything said in a book could be reduced to an article. The rest is just padding.

For some years, the amount of reading we assign university students has been shrinking. A book a week is now at best four or five for the semester; volumes give way to chapters or articles. Our motivation is often a last-ditch attempt to get students to actually read what’s on the syllabus. Other factors include the spiraling cost of textbooks and copyright limitations on how much we may post digitally.

. . . .

Are students even reading Milton or Thucydides or Wittgenstein these days? More fundamentally, are they studying the humanities, which are based on long-form reading?

There has been much talk of late about the humanities being in crisis. Undergraduates who once flocked to literature courses are now studying economics to prepare themselves for Wall Street. Graduate programs in the humanities are thinning out as students turn to “practical” advanced degrees with more certain employment prospects and, at least initially, higher salaries. The 2011 Freshman Survey from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that the top reason for attending college was “to be able to get a better job” (86 percent of respondents, up from 70 percent just five years earlier).

But there is another essential consideration affecting interest in humanistic inquiry: how we are doing our reading. I contend that the shift from reading in print to reading on digital devices is further reducing students’ pursuit of work in the humanities. Students (and the rest of us) have been reading on computers for many years. Besides searching for web pages, we’ve grown accustomed to reading journal articles online and mining documents in digital archives. However, with the coming of e-readers, tablets, and smartphones, reading styles underwent a sea change.

. . . .

But increasingly, e-books are causing a pedagogical reboot. Administrators and instructors, working with kindergartners through graduate programs, are progressively encouraging students to read on digital screens. Offering the promise of convenience and reduced cost, publishers are the main impetus behind the migration from print to e-books, although academics are buying into the transition with little thought for educational consequences.

What’s the problem? Not all reading works well on digital screens.

For the past five years, I’ve been examining the pros and cons of reading on-screen versus in print. The bottom line is that while digital devices may be fine for reading that we don’t intend to muse over or reread, text that requires what’s been called “deep reading” is nearly always better done in print.

Readers themselves have a keen sense of what kind of reading is best suited for which medium. My survey research with university students in the United States, Germany, and Japan reveals that if cost were the same, about 90 percent (at least in my sample) prefer hard copy for schoolwork. If a text is long, 92 percent would choose hard copy. For shorter texts, it’s a toss-up.

Digital reading also encourages distraction and invites multitasking. Among American and Japanese subjects, 92 percent reported it was easiest to concentrate when reading in hard copy. (The figure for Germany was 98 percent.) In this country, 26 percent indicated they were likely to multitask while reading in print, compared with 85 percent when reading on-screen. Imagine wrestling with Finnegan’s Wake while simultaneously juggling Facebook and booking a vacation flight. You get the point.

Link to the rest at The Chronicle of Higher Education and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

High school reading 2.0

23 June 2014
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From TeleRead:

[W]hat contemporary books would you add to the high school reading curriculum to round out the classics-laden choices being taught already?

As a book-lover—and a teacher—I have struggled at times with the question of what the high school English curriculum should do. I was horrified when my then-16-year-old brother told me his class had foregone the original Shakespeare in favour of a graphic novel adaptation. As a supplement, sure, graphic novel away. But instead of?

. . . .

I have been encountering more and more people like the Beloved, who claims he actually liked to read for fun—until school ruined it for him. And the way they ruined it was not so much that they made him read boring, dated stuff. It’s that they didn’t give any value to the things he did care to read about. If they had done more biography, more non-fiction—well-written, literary non-fiction if they must, but still—more stories about sports and adventure—well, maybe high school English wouldn’t have been the last literature he ever read. Maybe they could have covered the classics in perhaps a less comprehensive format and left time for literature which really did engage the students. Maybe they could have validated for these young adults that there was merit in the stuff that actually spoke to them.

So, with that in mind, what contemporary books would I add to a high school English curriculum?

. . . .

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier: The novel’s intriguing premise is that following a person’s death, they resume their lives in a way-station of a city where they remain as long as there is a person alive who still remembers them. The book is not explicitly a YA novel, but it offers many intriguing discussion points for that demographic, about the connections we make with other people, and the memories we choose to retain of them.

. . . .

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi: An alien species who happens to be hideously unattractive contacts a Hollywood PR agent for help in ‘coming out’ to Planet Earth. This is a hilarious send-up of the whole Hollywood machine, and offers a gentle way in to exploring notions of beauty, and the whole media spin machine.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Intel Will Push Into The Education Content Market With Interactive Textbooks

11 November 2013

From TechCrunch:

We had a tip about, and have now confirmed,Intel’s latest acquisition: Kno, the education startup that started life as a hardware business and later pivoted into software — specifically via apps that let students read interactive versions of digitized textbooks.

“I can confirm Intel has purchased Kno,” a spokesperson told us just now.

. . . .

Intel has published a . . . statement . . . on its site, which points to how Kno will fit into Intel’s efforts to build up its business in the education market — an effort it is making both in wider efforts in hardware and software.

. . . .

To date, Kno’s apps can be accessed via its iPad, Android and Windows 7 and Windows 8 apps, and the main idea behind Kno is that the books are not only digitised but also include additional features to help students and teachers assess their progress, share information with others and generally get more engaged in the content.

“They are the same books, only smarter,” the company notes on its site.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch

Google Unveils New Tablet

27 June 2012

Hi all,

Looks interesting.  Unfortunately I can only post the link, not the video:

—  Julia Barrett

For Reading and Learning, Kids Prefer E-Books to Print Books

11 January 2012

From Digital Book World:

Given the choice between reading e-books or print books, children prefer e-books, a new, exploratory field study shows. Children who read e-books also retain and comprehend just as much as when they read print books, the study also suggests.

A new “QuickStudy” – so named for its short duration and the small size of its sample group – from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center observed 24 families with children ranging in age from three-to-six reading both print and e-books in the Summer and Fall of 2011. Most of the children in the study preferred reading an e-book to a print book and comprehension between the two formats were the same.

“If we can encourage kids to engage in books through an iPad, that’s a win already,” said Carly Shuler, senior consultant for industry studies at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is a New York based non-profit organization dedicated to understanding how children learn through digital media.

Enhanced e-books – those that have more bells and whistles than e-books, like interactive features and games – were also compared in the study with their regular e-book counterparts. Children recalled fewer of the details of the content of enhanced e-books versus the same e-book.

“Kids were more focused on tapping things and that took away from their comprehension as well as the interaction between the parent and the child,” said Shuler.

. . . .

About 7.4% of children’s books sold in the first three quarters of 2011 were digital (excluding young adult titles), according to Bowker, a company that tracks the book industry. That compares with 13.5% across all book publishing segments over the same period.

Adoption of digital has been slower for children’s books than it has for other kinds of books in part because of a technology lag, according to Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker, who is currently working on a report about the children’s book publishing industry.

“The growth rate appears to be slower and it flattened out a bit this year,” said Gallagher. “That is related to the technology not being as capable to fully give the book-like experience for a children’s product, as opposed to the flat narrative of adult trade fiction.”

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

State of Washington Launches Digital Textbook Repository

3 November 2011
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from eBook Newser:

[T]he Washington state legislature . . . set aside three quarters of a million dollars to create a new program which will reduce the amount that the state spends each year for college textbooks.

The first phase of that program launched today.The Open Course Library was created by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and it acts as a central repository for digital textbooks and course materials for the college classes with the highest enrollments.

. . . .

Most (but not all) of the course materials are free, but the important detail here is that they all meet the standards set by the state of Washington. If a teacher adopts one of the CC licensed textbooks for a class then the students will be able to reduce their textbook costs considerably. But it’s not all peachy keen. Some of the materials in the OCL are still going to cost students money; luckily there’s an upper limit of $30.

Link to the rest at eBook Newser

E-readers – The Future of Public Education

16 February 2011
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Experiences of a literacy teacher with Kindles in class.


Shortly after that I applied for several literacy grants at work, not even sure what materials I could purchase if I was even approved for the funds. I began searching various sources for literacy teaching aids and found that everything I could make available to my students was bordering on insulting and childish. My mind went back to the Kindle e-reader I once had.

If I had a Kindle for every student in my class, each one filled with high-interest reading material that addresses topics that speak to young adults, I could use the read-aloud feature on the Kindle so that the students could “read” books they cared about and enjoyed while the words were displayed for them on the screen. Fortunately, the grant sources I applied to agreed with me.

I now have a classroom set of ten Kindle readers, each filled with almost two hundred books. I have headphones for each one so that my students can choose any title in the machine and listen without disturbing their neighbors. At first I used the Kindles to fill in down time in class or to have them available for independent reading, but my mind raced with the possibilities for a teacher.

One of the greatest features of Kindle readers, and I assume this is true of other branded devices, is that each e-book purchase is licensed to up to six devices, so as a teacher with limited funds I am able to purchase a book one time and install it on six of the machines. If I want all ten devices to have the exact same titles, I simply purchase the title one additional time.

. . . .

One of the most useful applications of using e-readers in my classroom is the ability to purchase titles instantly. By keeping my grant funding installed in our school Amazon account through our facility’s credit card, I can literally step over to my desktop computer and purchase any Kindle title, which sends it instantly to each device using the Amazon Whispernet. I have often had students ask me if I had a specific book available and if I do not, I can purchase the title immediately for them. I am demonstrating to my students that their interest in reading is extremely important to me, so important to me that I will provide books they enjoy at the push of a button. It is amazing as an educator to have the power to provide my students with titles that they request. When a student requests a specific book I am able to say to him, “I don’t have that book, but wait…now I do. Look in your Kindle.”

Link to the rest at Good EReader