Posts tagged ‘E-book’

September 18, 2013

Going to all-digital textbooks saves money for private high school students

by Grace

A move to replace paper textbooks with digital versions will save some New York private high school students hundreds of dollars each year.

Stepinac has become one of the first high schools in the country to drop all textbooks like dead weight and replace them with a “digital library.” When students started classes Monday, they were zipping to an app or website on their tablet or laptop and had instant access to all 40 texts in the Stepinac curriculum, not to mention all sorts of note-taking, highlighting and interactive features….

In the past, students’ families had to spend up to $700 a year on textbooks. This year — after the one-time purchase of a tablet or laptop — families have to pay $150 for access to the digital library.

The high school worked out a unique deal with Pearson.

Stepinac officials worked for a year with Pearson, the giant education company that has long dominated the textbook world, to design and create a unique digital library that is bound to be studied by other private and public schools.

The transition will inevitably come with some problems.

The first few weeks may bring some challenges.

Stepinac officials expect to encounter some parental discomfort over dropping books with spines. They recognize there may be technical glitches at first. And they will have to encourage students to leave space-eating photos and music off their tablets — and to keep their devices charged.

I wonder if many students will miss the illustrations and images from their old math and history books.  Even if they do, I suspect it won’t take too long to get used to the new digital format.

Although this exact model wouldn’t work for most colleges, I foresee a similar transition for higher education.

Related:  Save money on college textbooks by using Kindle (Cost of College)

January 24, 2012

Apple iBooks 2 – Is easier and flashier always better for learning?

by Grace

Apple announced it would update its iBooks platform to include textbook capabilities.

iBooks 2 was introduced last week, and I can’t help but get excited.

… a new textbook experience for the iPad. The first demonstration showed what it’s like to open a biology textbook, and see an intro movie playing right before you even get to the book’s contents. When you get to the book itself, images are large and beautiful, and thumbnails accompany the text. To make searching easier, all users need to do is tap on a word and they go straight to the glossary and index section in the back of the book.

Navigating pages and searching is easy and fluid, and at the end of each chapter is a full review with questions and pictures. If you want the answers to the questions, instead of searching for a page toward the back of the book, all you need to do is tap the answer to get immediate feedback.

Need to take notes? Apple now lets anyone highlight any text on the page using your finger. iBooks 2 immediately and automatically takes your highlighted notes and turns them into flash cards for later studying.

Okay, I’m salivating just thinking about how easy this will be to use.  But I wonder about the downsides.  Remember, there are always downsides.

I’m taking a self-study continuing education course right now, using an e-textbook.  When I need to look up a term in the book, it’s easy to do a quick search without having to know the context, without having to think much about it.  But if I had to search the old-fashioned way, I would be forced to consider what chapter or context would likely include the term.  I would have to think more and in different ways – assess, infer, predict, recall, reason, apply logic, and more.  It would not be as easy as simply typing in a word and letting the search function find it for me.*  Does this make a difference in how I’m learning?  Yes, I believe it does.  And while I don’t know exactly how it’s different, I strongly suspect there’s a downside.  Does the overall improved efficiency make up for the decreased amount of critical thinking?  I just don’t know.

Here’s my question in a nutshell.  Even if it’s easier to go through the course material, is it possible that I am actually learning less?

* Yes, a paper book typically has an index that can be used in a manner similar to an ebook search function, but it usually requires more thinking skills to use as efficiently.

A more basic problem for public schools:  In order to buy and read these textbooks, each student will have to own an Apple iPad.

Related:  Kindle Fire – the end of deep and focused reading?

June 28, 2011

E-reader ownership doubles in last six months

by Grace

That sounds about right.  “All” my friends and relatives either own e-readers or are talking about which one to buy.

The share of adults in the United States who own an e-book reader doubled to 12% in May, 2011  from 6% in November 2010.  E-readers, such as a Kindle or Nook, are portable devices designed to allow readers to download and read books and periodicals.  This is the first time since the Pew Internet Project began measuring e-reader use in April 2009 that ownership of this device has reached double digits among U.S. adults.

Around Christmas time, it seemed as if all “everyone” was getting an iPad, but apparently growth in tablet computer ownership has slowed down.

Tablet computers—portable devices similar to e-readers but designed for more interactive web functions—have not seen the same level of growth in recent months.  In May 2011, 8% of adults report owning a tablet computer such as an iPad, Samsung Galaxy or Motorola Xoom.  This is roughly the same percentage of adults who reported owning this kind of device in January 2011 (7%), and represents just a 3 percentage-point increase in ownership since November 2010.  Prior to that, tablet ownership had been climbing relatively quickly.

I own neither an e-reader nor a tablet computer; I’m still in the “talking about” stage.

Source:  Pew Internet

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