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Friday, 21 January 2011

Educators: taking advantage of e-reader capability

Using e-readers in the classroom should prompt some pedagogical changes.
Reading a book with an e-reader or e-reading software/App is not just the digital equivalent of reading a made-from-paper book. It opens up a whole world of possibilities, student engagement, and, at the next level, of creativity.

Most teachers will be familiar with the first level of possibilities:

  • text re-sizing
  • dictionary/thesaurus
  • portability and the potential of carrying a very large number of books on a single device
  • animation and interaction if you are using an App
  • search function that enables the user to search the book for specific text - e.g. to check up on the first time a particular character appears and so on
  • text to speech synthesis - usually a "computer" voice but sometimes still useful

There are tools that the user can use which both personalise the device, or, if it needs to be shared, enable more streamlined use. (Here I will refer mainly to the Kindle because that's where my area of "expertise" lies, but perhaps you could adopt the approach of "if that can be done on a Kindle, how can I achieve something similar on my e-reader?)

  • tools like Categories in the Kindle enable the user to put the e-books into a sort of "folder" system. In this blog post I explain what I've done on my Kindle, but you could easily use categories on a shared device to store books for specific users. I would imagine that other devices/software have the ability to sort books into labelled shelves. (if you know of anything here, leave a comment)

But there are tools that allow the user to take use of their device to a new level. Let's take the scenario of a student who is required to write a book report, or an analysis of a particular section.
The student may need to be shown how to use the bookmarking and annotation tool, how to transfer those notes to a text reader on a computer, and then to manipulate them for a book report.

My point here is that the teacher needs to take a bit of an interventionist role, set post-reading assignments that challenge the student to make use of the extra capabilities an e-reader provides.

If you have a Kindle, you might find EduKindle a useful place to browse and monitor.
Of course there is always the Kindle User's Guide.

Posted via email from You Are Never Alone

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