Who is Smik?

Monday, 1 November 2010

e-books: What your school needs you to do (if you are a teacher or a TL)

The e-book/e-reader scenario is the perfect illustration of the hype cycle. We are not so far up from the "technology trigger". The Gartner Hype Cycle July 2009 put e-book readers into the 2-5 years to mainstream adoption and we are quite a long way from that.

The emergence of the latest cab off the rank, the Nook Color e-reader, which is a touch screen device, will throw an interesting cat among the pigeons. I'm sure it will hasten the development of other small colour devices perhaps even a colour Kindle. Many are predicting there will be even more device releases in time for your Christmas spending.

What teachers and teacher librarians should be doing is developing some experience in what an e-reader can do. Please don't sit around waiting for the right one to come along.

I am sure we are just at the beginning of the e-book scenario, and that cheaper colour touch screens etc will become available in the next few months, and that makes sensible arguments for holding off.
On the other hand we desperately need teachers and TLs who have joined the "advance guard" and are developing some expertise in what an e-reader can do, what they might offer to a school library.

I'm sure the issues with how to lend books, and possibilities for e-textbooks will be worried at for at least the next 12 months.

The deal with Amazon and Borders is that multiple copies of a purchased e-book can be downloaded to devices registered to your account. With Amazon it is 6 devices and I thought that was the case with Borders too.
This includes being able to read the e-book on a laptop or PC.

My appeal to TLs is to at least download Kindle for PC or the Borders software to a laptop or desktop PC, and get some experience in how of what e-reading is like.
It is not quite the same as a dedicated e-reader but the functionality is similar.

Just as we have Apple enthusiasts in our ranks, and PC enthusiasts, those who rally behind the e-book / e-reader banner will probably always speak highly of the device they have spent time with (unless they totally hate it). In my own case it is the Kindle2 which I have been using for 15 months now and have read 35 books on.
But my experiences have given me a view of what we need to look for in an e-reader or e-reading software. I am unlikely to buy a new device anytime soon, although I do have Kindle for PC on my computer, as well as the Borders software. My husband has the Kindle for PC App on his iPad.

If you are thinking about your next step, then the criteria that I listed in my blog post at http://blogs.educationau.edu.au/ksmith/2010/09/08/e-books-and-e-readers-criteria-for-choosing-your-e-reader/ might be a good starting point.

As with most technology decisions, it really comes down to what you want the device to do and how much you are prepared to pay for it.

I have explored the topic in these blog posts
Teaching with an e-book: http://blogs.educationau.edu.au/ksmith/2010/09/14/teaching-with-an-e-book-part-1/
And this one about how we are unlikely to see wholesale adoption of e-texts in schools in 2010: http://blogs.educationau.edu.au/ksmith/2010/10/26/so-youre-thinking-about-e-text-books-2011-may-be-too-soon-in-australia-anyway/
If you explore my blog you'll see that e-books is a focus topic for me.

If you are attending the SLAV conference on November 12, I will presenting a session on why I love my Kindle, and e-books in general.

If you are in Tasmania Jill Hutchins is organising a conference for 11-12 indep schools, catholic colleges and Academies/Polytechnics, where e-books is one of the topics:  Jill's email address is Jill.Abell@hutchins.tas.edu.au I'll be there too.

You could think about tuning into the YSL round table on e-books in early December:  check it out at http://yourschoollibrary.org/

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