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E-Books for Learning (Or Not)?

Summer is here. My textbooks are neatly placed on my bookshelf and my Kindle comes out. I rarely have time to pleasure read during the school year. What did I just write? It's true. I most often use paper textbooks for educational needs and e-books for pleasure. I have mixed feelings about e-books. I own and love my Kindle but I have been known to purchase a paper copy of a book I have on my Kindle for easier reference to diagrams and such.

Many of the texts I use in class are available to students in the e-book format. Some students take advantage of this offering. Many of the reference texts I list for students are free on-line texts. Personally, I find it cumbersome to read a Java program that is pages long "on a screen". With most e-books it difficult to print pages for easier reference.

In some CA school districts, e-texts have been used and administrators boast that "The greatest immediate observable result is how quickly the kids get engaged." Yet several university students believe that e-book devices are good if you're using them on "a beach or on an airplane," but "not fully functional for a learning environment."

I teach computer science. What does my ideal textbook look like? Ideally, it is an "interactive" e-book. I read sections, take self-check quizzes that give me immediate feedback, watch videos of algorithm animations, see diagrams of data storage, link to current events having that deal with computer science in the world today (I mean TODAY as in the day I am reading my text) , have the ability to highlight text and write in the margins, submit and/or answer questions to a blog or wiki, have the ability to print pages from the e-book, etc. Current technology provides all of this in different formats through different course delivery systems. I just haven't found MY ideal e-textbook yet.

In most K-12 school districts, this type of e-textbook might be somewhat of a dream. Providing access to e-book devices for every student is costly and districts are finding ways to cut costs. Access to on-line materials for current events is not permitted in many public schools.

But, wouldn't it be nice? Your thoughts on e-books?

Fran Trees
CSTA Chapter Liaison

Resources:

Reading from paper versus screens: http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~adillon/Journals/Reading.htm

Pros and Cons: E-books and E-book readers: http://nssea.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/pros-and-cons-e-books-and-e-book-readers/

Book Smarts? E-Texts Receive Mixed Reviews From Students: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203577304574277041750084938.html

Tablets make digital textbooks cool on campus: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2011-06-17-digital-textbooks_n.htm

Comments

E-books and other forms of online learning are essential for growth in today's classroom because students are learning with their online community but they should also be able to save school districts time and money. It's sad that this concept has to be embraced.

I am so glad someone has addressed this issue. Not only should students have have more opportunities for e-learning, but, teachers and educators should, as well. I think if we start there, we can chart the course for 21st century learning.

Best of luck as you continue to grow an interactive community.

I think ebooks can be more easily used on different locations, like you mentioned, but it truly depends on the subject matter and type of class it is.

Are there any school districts that have gone all digital yet?

Liz-CoolProducts

I rarely have time to pleasure read during the school year. "The greatest immediate observable result is how quickly the kids get engaged." I have been known to purchase a paper copy of a book I have on my Kindle for easier reference to diagrams and such.

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