Who is Smik?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The chicken or the egg?

That caught your attention didn't it? as you scratch your head to fathom what I am going to write about it in this post?

I don't believe that many schools that are considering implementing e-books and e-readers have given enough thought to getting their teachers "experienced" first. In many of the presentations that I have given recently about e-books I have recommended that teachers/librarians/principals set up "proof of concept" projects where they invest in a few Kindles or iPads that they can then lend to staff or students to build that pool of experienced users.

I do believe that successful implementation of an e-book or e-textbook programme relies on a shared pool of expertise/experience. If a school or education system is going to go the considerable expense of kindles or iPads or another brand of e-readers then they need to be used in such a way as to invoke a greater level of productivity than the mere use of made-from-paper books do. Teachers need to be experienced enough to feel "converted" to their use, and to be able to build a bank of pedagogically sound practices.

Many are going into e-book and e-text book programmes on the assumption, largely false, that doing so will save money. They have in mind that e-books will be cheaper because they are digitised text, so we are saving ink and paper. But make no mistake, publishers need to get their money out of this venture too. And add to that the expense of whatever device you are going to use to display the e-books. They are not cheap either although prices are still coming down, for dedicated e-readers at least.  (here's a new Kindle-like device that has just come onto the market in Australia). So we shouldn't be adopting e-book programmes on economic grounds. It would be easy to prove that, in the immediate sense, staying with what we've got will be cheaper. We need to be implementing e-books because pedagogically it makes sense.

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