Thursday, July 16, 2009

WSJ goes to School on eBooks

In the WSJ this morning they have a round-up of some of the trails and debates about placing eBook readers in schools as a replacement for paper texts. Clearly, ebook readers are not a replacement since many basic functions that paper texts allow are not available with eBooks. At this point it appears the only 'benefit' to eBooks in schools are the low weight compared to a back pack of books. As such, the Kindle and Sony reader efforts to enter this market risk deterring other more adventurous manufactures who will face student and administrator scepticsm because these early efforts are so inadequate. That's my view but here is more from the journal:

Some California school districts say they have had positive results with e-texts so far. At the Las Virgenes Unified School District in southern California, digital books have been used on PCs and in printouts in elementary-school science classes since 2007. “The greatest immediate observable result is how quickly the kids get engaged,” says Las Virgenes schools superintendent Donald Zimring. He adds, however, that there is no evidence e-texts improved reading or test scores.At colleges, trials of e-textbooks and readers have been mixed. When Northwest Missouri State ran its trial with the Sony Reader last fall, dozens of the 200 participants bailed out after about two weeks. “The students more often than not either suffered through it or went and got physical books,” says Paul Klute, the assistant to the university’s president, who oversees the e-book program. Students didn’t like that they couldn’t flip through random pages, take notes in the margins or highlight text, he says.

Penn State ran a pilot program last fall with 100 of the Sony Reader devices in honors English classes, and found similar results as Northwest Missouri State. The devices are good if you’re using them “on a beach or on an airplane,” said Mike Furlough, assistant dean for scholarly communications at Penn State University Libraries. “But not fully functional for a learning environment.”

(If you can't see this article search the title: Book Smarts? E-Texts Receive Mixed Reviews From Students and that should bring up a link that works).

Post: Big Kindle Goes to School (Shug)

1 comment:

eBookReader said...

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I have a Sony reader, the exclusivity of the Kindle turned me off a bit. Because I use mine for recreational reading, and not research or school work, I am pretty happy with my reader.

Granted, I am not purchasing text books, I am purchasing digital downloads from at $1.95 each. They also offer "Print on Demand", and "Invest in Knowledge". I have purchased two books through the "Invest in Knowledge" program. For $30 you get a paperback Print on Demand copy of the book, and I am the sole investor in the book. As an investor I receive 5% of every subsequent sale.