30 Days of Back to School: Learning From and With Devices

Over the past several weeks my Twitter feed has been filled with links to articles, reports, and information about integration of ereaders, iPads, etc. into classrooms and libraries. From my perspective it’s been a long time getting to what looks like a tipping point for integration of ematerials into the learning experience. (The first ereaders – for example the Rocket ebook reader – came on the scene about 12 years ago.) It is pretty exciting to learn about what’s being piloted in schools and libraries across the country and learn how the use of these devices can improve and enhance teaching, learning, and library services for teens. For example:

  • Kindle-ization: Clearwater High Replaces Books with E-Readers is the title of an article that appeared last weekend in The Ledger. (Thanks @mkeagle for the link on Twitter earlier this week.) The article talks about how the Clearwater High School just provided each student with their own Kindle. The students quoted in the article provide some really interesting food for thought when it comes to ereaders in the classroom. The article includes brief comments about the ability to use the built-in dictionary for looking up unfamiliar words and the ability to take notes about reading right in the text. One student even said about the note-taking capabilities of the Kindle, “It’s just like texting.” Which is high praise don’t you think?
  • The iPad Project is a set of blog posts by Fraser Speirs on integration of iPads in the school in which he works. The posts aren’t as frequent as I thought they would be at first, but there is some good content on how to get an iPad project up and running. It’s definitely worth reading to find out about first-hand experience in a school.
  • More and more publishers are looking at ways to make textbooks available on digital devices. Early this month Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced an algebra app for the iPad. The announcement included this text, “The pilot also represents the launch of HMH Fuseâ„¢, a new mode of curriculum delivery where interactive platforms and mobile devices bring learning to life for students by moving beyond the one-way experience of a print or digital textbook.” And, towards the end of the press release is this statement, “The iPad is a natural platform for use in education, it’s a magic sheet of paper which can display text, graphics and video, test students, provide internet access and facilitate student-teacher interaction.” These quotes together point to key reasons why the use of devices like ereaders and tablets such as the iPad are going to become more and more prevalent in teaching and learning environments.
  • Speaking of textbooks, in the summer the Inkling app for the iPad launched. It’s a free app that provides access to a variety of textbooks. The video app overview on the Inkling site provides a good overview of what is possible when digital textbooks enter the education world. The video highlights the ability to share content with others and take notes within the app, and it makes clear that by taking away paper and a book’s binding learning can expand to include a variety of forms of content and even allow students to organize textbook pages in a way that makes sense to them personally and specifically. Using Inkling and watching the video it seems that we are really at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital devices and education.

Just over a year ago library blogs and the popular news media were focused on the announcement by Cushing Academy that the school’s library was going bookless. A lot has happened in a year in terms of what’s available – actual digital devices and content for those devices. Going bookless is not going to be the answer for every library or every school. However, the ways in which teens can access content via digital devices and the acceptance of digital devices and ereading by publishers, librarians, and others will no doubt continue to grow.

I’m excited to see what September 2011 brings when school begins and a new crop of digital content and access is available to teens. Any chance we can fast-forward now?

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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