Monday, May 23, 2011

The Next-Generation Digital Book (via TED video)

In this TED video, Mike Matas demonstrates the first full-length interactive digital book for the iPad, iPhone & iPod touch published through Push Pop Press.  It's an absolutely fascinating look at the future of reading as well as information and media literacy instruction possiblities.  However, once you get past the dazzling innovative technology, is it really a better way to teach content?  I guess that's what we in the literacy/library/technology/media/ education profession need to figure out...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A CHS Student Speaks About Using the Gale Student Resources App on the iPad

Student access to resources anytime and anywhere is one of my favorite aspects of being in the library/media profession.  Offering useful academic electronic resources to students via a variety of mobile devices enables students the opportunity to access resources regardless of where they are.  One of these useful Apps is the Access My Library (AML) - School Edition that Gale Student Resources offers.  This app is available for the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.  It extends the resources that the school media center already owns and puts them into the hands of students 24/7. 

Below a Copley High School student talks about using the Gale Student Resources on the iPad.  It's fairly simple to use...just download the app onto a device, find your school library, and enter the password (which the media specialist at your school can provide), and then it will bring up the databases and eBooks that are available at your school.  A power search can be conducted (which searches all the available ebooks and databases) or a search can be limited to one database at a time.  I have no connection to Cengage Learning (who provides Gale Resources), but I have found their resources to be very valuable for student research, and there are many of our students who freely admit that they would rather use the Gale Student Resource database than Google because of the quality resources that they consistently discover.

As mentioned, one of our high school students explains how to use an educational app on the iPad on the following video.  The video is loaded on Google videos, so if your school blocks Google videos, you will need to view the video on an unfiltered Internet connection.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

List of Potential iPad Apps for Use in K-12 Schools

There are lists of educational iPad Apps cropping up all over, and I wanted to add one to this growing list of resources. This iPad Apps List is one that I received from Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland.  It's an excel spreadsheet of all the apps they have used--some very successfully and others were tried but did not meet their expectations.  This list is just a "starting place" in order to examine potential apps for K-12 students, but similar to all lists, the user needs to determine which apps will meet the learning needs of their students.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nook vs Kindle: Some New Thoughts

I'm often asked by other librarians which eReader I would recommend, and I'm always quick to mention that regardless of what I say, they need to ask themselves the question "What is the purpose for the eReader or mobile device in my library, classroom, or school?"  Sometimes when a new piece of technology arrives on the scene, we think,

I have to have this--it's what I've been waiting for; this piece of technology will transform my teaching and student learning and literacy development.

Frankly, I've yet to see this happen (although there are positive rumblings of this very thing happening with the iPad).  However, how many schools have equipped every classroom and library with an interactive whiteboard, yet it is not being used any more effectively than a regular white board?  Or, worse yet--the technology is only being used to augment strictly lecture style instruction?  What I've noticed is that teachers who use technology effectively have transformed their teaching rather than the technology being responsible for any transformation.

The same applies to the use of any mobile device in a library/classroom.  So...what is the purpose for purchasing any mobile device is one of the most important questions that can be asked and answered.  How will it be used?  Is it just an electronic version of a print book or does it offer students opportunities to increase their vocabulary by using the online dictionary that allows them to learn words in context?  Is it just a mobile device that mimics the typical library lab computer or can an autistic student who has trouble concentrating in a computer lab environment use an iPad to help with focus while searching through online resources?  Those were some of my questions I had; everyone has their own set.  After the questions are asked and possibilities considered, movement towards piloting a mobile device or two needs to take place.

Be courageously progressive but cautious remains my motto for purchasing any mobile devices.  In our media center, we decided to start with just two Nooks.  I like the Nook because of the local customer service, the library lending options, and most importantly... the students prefer the Nook to the Kindle.  However, in recent months there have been rumors about the sale of Barnes and Noble and the possibility of physical bookstores becoming extinct in the near future (similar to the DVD rental stores).

Also, the Kindle will soon be able to borrow books from the public library according to a recent news article "Amazon to Allow Library Lending of Kindle Books."  With this new information (and speculation about physical bookstore extinction), I have been asking myself if I made the correct decision choosing the Nook over the Kindle or Sony for our student use, and my answer is "Yes" only because I didn't purchase an entire fleet of these devices; I started small.

When I look back at the questions I've asked (and still ask) about mobile devices and student use, it becomes less about what piece of technology should be purchased and more about why it's being purchased.  As the list of students on our "wait list" grew for wanting to check out the Nook, we purchased two more (Color Nooks for the second round).  The wait list continued to grow, so we ordered an additional two, which should be arriving shortly.  Our next step is to have two of our Nooks to house required reading material for class, three for circulating young adult literature (that is also used in many of our English classes), and one Color Nook to remain in the library to use for magazines.  If there is no need for additional devices, I will not purchase them.

Will I switch to Kindles or another still-to-be-developed eReader in the future?  Perhaps.  I may be forced to or what another eReader offers may one day better suit our student's learning needs.  Currently, the Nook works for our students and the Color Nook also allows them to use our databases and other online resources for student research as well as to read classroom required material.  The eReader is just a tool--not the answer for increasing literacy or student learning.  That's our job as librarians and teachers.

Relevant Learning: Angry Birds in the Kindergarten Classroom

I had the opportunity to visit Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, Scotland during my spring break.  They were the first school in the world to have 1:1 iPad implementation, and I was impressed with their technology integration and teaching theories.  They do not view technology as something to be taught in isolation but rather as a tool within the context of learning.  Problem-based learning is also used daily.  Their teaching/learning theories lined up with mine, but more importantly, they have moved their teaching theories and models into the practical realm of real student learning.  (More on this in future posts as I continue to process what I saw and learned at the school.)

The first classroom I visited was Mrs. Speirs' kindergarten classroom, which was rich with literacy and math displays and students actively engaged in a writing exercise.  One of the displays that eventually caught my eye was an Angry Birds one, which was located right next to a creative display of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I had to ask Mrs. Speirs how she could possibly use Angry Birds with kindergarten students.  She said, "I've incorporated Angry Birds into my math lesson in terms of positional language, so I'm speaking about above and below, left and right, top and bottom, biggest and smallest and things like that."  Mrs. Speirs' display of an angry birds scene (which I hope to post after extracting from a video) had "positional language" words posted for student instruction and reference.

The students are not given the opportunity to play angry birds during class time, but they could choose it as an activity for free time, and what Mrs. Speirs noticed was that students were actually problem-solving with each other as they encountered difficulties reaching another level, discussing ideas of how to move to the next level, as well as exploring how they could assist each other.  All this during kindergarten "free-time."  Was Angry Birds the only iPad app that the students were using for learning?  Definitely not.  In fact, it is one of the minor ones, but I think the teacher is using what is relevant to students (a popular game) and shaping that into a learning experience at a level that kindergarten students can understand.  (For a list of iPad apps that are used in the kindergarten classroom at Cedars, check out Fraser Speirs' blog.  It's from October, so it's a little dated, but if I receive permission, I'll also post a list that Mr. Speirs recently sent me.)

As a Scottish cultural side note--which has nothing to do with student learning, except my own.....Mrs. Speirs had a stuffed Angry Bird in the classroom as well as an Angry Birds iPad cover.  When I asked where she got them, she said Amazon.  Yes, they do buy from Amazon in Britain as often as we do in the States.  Also, in a country that has what I believe to be the best chocolate in the world, the Scottish teachers were devouring American peanut butter and pretzel M&M's that one of their colleagues had brought back from the States.  I was astonished!  If you ever have a chance to visit Cedars School of Excellence--which I highly recommend that you do--go armed with an arsenal of pretzel and peanut butter M&M's.  I imagine you'll be their colleague and friend for life ;-) 

Friday, April 1, 2011

iPad 2 and Mirroring Capabilities

Today a student brought in his iPad 2 and VGA cable, and.... we discovered that when we hooked the iPad up to an LCD projector, it mirrors everything that is viewed on the iPad.  I have looked online and spoken to representatives at the Apple store for the past several weeks, and no one seemed to know if the iPad would work with VGA as well as HDMI, so I was thrilled to find out that the iPad will work with any of our VGA projectors in the district. Whether it's an app, the internet, a video...anything, it will be mirrored on the screen.  It's a teacher's dream for instruction. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

eCampus News article "Which eReader is Right for you?"

Jenna Zwang, Assistant editor for eCampus News (Technology News for Today's Higher-ed Leader) just wrote the article, "Which eReader is Right for You".  This article examines eleven popular eReaders and offers a chart for comparison.  The chart includes the type of eReader, price, color or black and white, screen size, eInk, backlit, wi-fi, battery life, book format, and a column that lists other features.  It is similar to Jim Martin's "eReader Overview," but he provides over 40 choices of eReaders.  These articles could be helpful when selecting the appropriate eReader for your library, school, or your own use.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Think Outside the Container: eReaders and the iPad in the Library and Classroom

On Friday, March 18, Jim Martin and I will be offering an updated presentation on using eReaders and the iPad in the library and classroom at the NEOtech conference at the University of Akron.  For those who are interested in the updated Prezi, click on this link.  This Prezi offers a pros/cons list of the Kindle, Nook, Sony, and iPad as well as a section on student use in the library and classroom, including a brief video of Copley High School student's candid thoughts on eReaders and the iPad.  There are also two new eResources located in the eReader Resources list on the blog:

Annotated List of eReader and iPad Resources:

I have been collecting various blog links, websites, and articles that relate to using eReaders and the iPad in education.  Colleen Scolaro, a Kent State University library student, annotated the list for me as well as added some resources that she discovered.  There are approximately 66 resources, and the iPad resources are especially helpful.  It is not an exhaustive list, but for anyone piloting an eReader or iPad program, it will be a solid place to start.

Instructions for Checking Out eBooks from the Public Library:

Jim Martin put together this useful resource on how to check out an eBook from the public library using Adobe Digital Editions and how to put an eBook on a Nook or Sony.  It includes screen shots and step-by-step directions.  This will be helpful for those who want to borrow a book from their local library. We have tried to borrow books from the public library using the school Nooks, but an individual person has to borrow the book.  Our local public library is willing to offer our school a library card so that we can borrow books, but we would be responsible for any problems associated with the borrowed books. Since the books automatically disappear from the eReader device on the due date, there shouldn't be any late fees, so we will be pursuing the library lending option in the near future.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Angry Birds and Google Docs . . . Say What??

As an educator, who doesn't want to see students engaged in learning?  I have visions of the iPad transforming learning, of watching students accessing electronic databases, hearing them synthesize and analyze data in collaborative groups, using an educational app for content creation, or generating text or digital video that speaks to their mastery of content that will help the students excel on standardized tests or even more importantly in life.

So today... as these thoughts floated through my head, I took a moment to look at one of my students in the library using the iPad, and I prepared to jump into an intellectual discussion of the educational benefits of using the iPad, but instead I was faced with a student who was gleefully knocking over pigs with angry birds!  Say what?  Okay . . . let's admit it...we've all played Angry Birds on some device at least once (or maybe 100s of times :-), but there was a slight (okay major) disappointment that my vision wasn't a reality at that moment, especially since I didn't install the Angry Birds app on the iPad and I was in the midst of visions of so much more.  (Side note: for those who don't know--because our students do--you can sign into the Apple Store with your own Apple ID, and download apps.  Including a section that requires students to agree that they will not change any settings or download any apps or eBooks is important to include in a Student User Agreement before allowing students to use any electronic device.   Angry Birds is fairly innocuous, but it's still against the user policy.)

Now I do understand the day of our high school students is intellectually intense, so I believe that as well as a learning center, the library should be an inviting place for students to occasionally "catch their breath" and relax for a few moments by reading a magazine, newspaper, book, listen to music, or play an educational game or two.  (I'm still trying to figure out if Angry Birds has any connection to the physics academic content standards, so far I haven't come up with anything ;-)  However, the primary purpose of the library should be to connect students to resources within and outside the school walls, which can definitely be accomplished through the use of the iPad when directed by librarians and teachers, and often students as well.

In contrast to the Angry Birds scenario, this week one of our students asked permission to explore the use of Google Docs on the iPad because he had a research paper due the following week, and he wanted to test the iPad's possibilities and capabilities for content creation.  Obviously the answer was "Yes!."  The statistics for accessing our online databases has also soared in the past couple of months as we have promoted the use of the iPad for research and students have shared their success with the content retrieval.  There are moments when it's difficult to pilot one iPad in the library because it can be viewed as a toy rather than a tool, but offering students the opportunity to explore ways that the iPad will assist their academic endeavors has always been productive.  Within the next year, we hope to have a classroom set of iPads that will be used in the library with all content areas.  Having a group of students to brainstorm, test, and help choose useful apps and tools will definitely be part of the iPad implementation goals.

A Curious Discovery about Nooks, iPads, and Multiple Devices

The library now has four Nooks and two iPads that have the Nook app on them.  Although Barnes and Noble has not officially limited the number of devices that a book can reside on, it is a common industry standard to limit the devices to six.  The frugal Scottish part of me is thrilled that we can purchase one book, and it can be downloaded onto six devices, which nicely stretches the limited book budget; however, there is also the fact that authors, editors, and yes, even the mammoth publishing houses do need to make some money in their book creation and distribution endeavors.  It will be interesting to see if this six device standard remains as more school libraries begin circulating eReaders.

Unfortunately, the six device limit does not apply to the iPad.  If you have 30 iPads, 30 copies of an iBook need to be purchased.  Currently, there is no educational volume purchasing for iBooks (like there is for the Apps), but there may be in the future.  The device limit (traditionally 5 per itunes account) was designed to be shared within a family, not among iPads circulating among high school students.  I've never viewed the iPad as competition for the Kindle, Nook, or other eReaders.  One cannot replace the other.  I see them as siblings (one being extremely "gifted" with diverse talents (the iPad) and the sibling (the Nook) as the steady, practical, focused one that is extremely bright but somewhat limited).  Nooks are for reading books; the iPad is primarily used for accessing web-based resources, educational apps, as well as content creation, so .  . . the iBook limitation has not impacted our purchasing decisions.

The whole six device per ebook has led to a curious but logical discovery as it relates to circulating the Nooks in the library.  Since the devices were originally designed for one owner (for example, let's say I own a Nook, but I have the Nook app on my Android phone, iPad, and iPod touch), the eBook that I'm reading will be "bookmarked" so that regardless of which device I am reading the book on, it will keep track of which chapter I'm currently reading--an amazing feature.  Now, let's add five Nooks to that scenario (minus all the Nook apps), and there are five students--and occasionally one librarian--reading different books on one of the Nooks.  When I open up one of the Nooks, I am never greeted with the eBook I was previously reading; instead it will open to the book that the last student who is using one of the other Nooks is reading.  There are no names assigned to each Nook or ebook being read, so privacy is not an issue, but I'll have to admit--as a librarian/teacher--it's encouraging to see that the Nooks are not just being checked out and sitting in a student locker or back-pack but are actually being used for reading . . . a lot.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Resources for Starting an eReader Program in the Library (Attachments from Prezi entitled "Print or Pixels: eBooks and eReaders in the School Library")

There have been some requests for the attachments that Jim Martin (from NEOnet) and I included in our presentation on eReaders at the OELMA (Ohio Educational Library Media Association) in the fall.  They are listed and linked under the eReader Resources section on the right-hand side of the blog, as well as linked in the annotated list below.

Student Forms

eReader Student Rental Agreement - The Student Rental Agreement is a form that students need to fill out before they can borrow one of the eReaders.  We keep the original on file, so the students do not need to complete the form again if they will be checking out the eReader in the future.  There is also a copy of the form in the bag with the eReader, case, and power supply.  We began circulating in October 2010, and we haven't lost any eReaders yet.

iPad Student Feedback Form and Nook Student Feedback Form - These two feedback forms are used when students first check out the iPad or Nooks.  (The iPad is only to be used in the library; the Nooks can be taken home for one week.)  Most students do not take the feedback form seriously; they just want to use the device, but it does offer some data on usage.  We also keep a tally sheet for male/female and grade level usage.  In the future, we will also be collecting comments from students via video regarding their experiences with the eReaders.

eReader/eBook Resources

eReader Overview - This document was compiled by Jim Martin and offers the specs of 44 eReader devices; it is dated October, so there should be an update in the spring.  Although most schools are using the Nook or Kindle as an eReading device, it is helpful to look at possible alternatives depending on the needs of the library or classroom population.

Free Sources of eBooks - Jim Martin also provided this document with an annotated list of eight sources for free eBooks.  This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a place to begin.

DRM and File Formats - Another helpful document from Jim Martin, who explains DRM (Digital Rights Management) and defines many of the file formats that are used with eReaders.  (Updated document, 3-3-11)

Information on 3G vs Wifi and CIPA - Jim Martin offers an overview of CIPA and 3G vs WiFi devices.  He adds a disclaimer on the document, "This document was NOT prepared by anyone with a legal background. The issues are raised so that school staff are aware of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the potential conflict raised by supplying students with 3g wireless eReaders and Wi-Fi enabled eReaders."

eReader/eBook Management and Cataloging

Instructions for Cataloging eBooks in WorkFlows - These instructions were created by Jim Martin for library staff that use the Sirsi WorkFlows library management software (applicable to InfOhio users).  Martin offers three methods of cataloging eBooks, which can be transferred to other types of cataloging software.  At Copley High School, we catalog the eReader device, and then create a circulation set of all the books that are held on the device.  (See instructions regarding creating a circulation set below.) 

Creating Circulation Sets - Martin's WorkFlows instructions for creating a circulation set.  Each ebook is cataloged individually and then added to a Nook set.

Nook Cover 1 and Nook Cover 2 - Two examples of wallpaper for the Nook.  We include the name of the library, number of the Nook, the school contact information, and the barcode of the Nook.  The jpg, png, or gif image size must be 600 x 760.  For more information on how to create Nook wallpaper or screensavers, check Nook-Look.  Please note that the Color Nook uses a different image size, which I have yet to experiment with.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nook and eBook Accessing/Downloading Issue (Time Zone & Daylight Savings Settings)

With the wi-fi Nook, we have experienced some difficulty accessing downloaded books on occasion.  Although the eBbooks have been purchased, are in the account, listed in the device, and have been read by a student in the past, the books sporadically disappear and are unavailable to read. 

When this occurs, students will try to access a book, but rather than opening the book, it will go to the sample page where you can read a synopsis of the book or download the book.  If you try to download the book, the message that appears will ask for an updated credit card (if you don't have one on file), and then prompt you to call customer service.

We had this issue again today, so I contacted a Nook representative.  I was told that the time zone needed to be checked and daylight savings needs to be turned off.  Although the time zone was correct in the past, it had switched to Eastern European, so the time was not correct.  Did the time zone switch by itself or did a student change it?  Both are possible but after speaking with other Nook owners, they have encountered the same problem, so it appears to be a Nook issue that hopefully they can fix.  Until then . . . if you can't access your ebooks, check your time zone and daylight savings settings on your Nook.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

eReaders, Reluctant Readers, Reading Comprehension, and Self-Efficacy

One of the research questions that intrigues me is how and if eReaders impact reading comprehension, especially with reluctant readers and students with learning disabilities.  Last week, I had a male student come rushing into my office requesting that I purchase an eBook for one of the color Nooks that we circulate.  I began asking him various questions about his reading experience (conducting my own informal study).  One of the questions I asked him was did he prefer reading an eBook over a print book, and if so, why?

The student immediately responded with enthusiasm, "I like to read on the color Nook because I read faster."  That's an important feature for the typical student who wants to get through their assigned reading more quickly, but I also found his response interesting because I had read an article several months ago ( of an informal study done that indicated that people actually read slower on an electronic format.  I did not offer the student that information because that would devalue his belief, and it was only one small study.

I also asked the student if he understood and remembered everything that he read on the ebook compared to print, and he said with much confidence, "I remembered everything I read on the Nook; it's just easier to read."  Now obviously this student's response will not make for a conclusive study on reading comprehension, but it's one piece to consider as I look at more formal ways of assessing comprehension.  I began wondering about the role that self-efficacy plays in reading.  If the student believes he can read faster, and he believes that he understands and remembers the text, shouldn't it have an impact on his reading comprehension?  I would think so because the student would probably approach the text with more confidence and investment.  Self-efficacy and reading comprehension will certainly be an area I will explore in the future with students and eReaders.

The area of vocabulary development and reading comprehension has also been in the forefront of my thoughts.  I have been trying to read all my personal and professional reading on an eReader device or on the iPad so I can immerse myself in the technology and compare it to my experience with print material.  One of the biggest differences is the dictionary and note-taking functions available on the eReaders (specifically the Nook and iPad).  When I have read a book in the past and come across a word I don't know the definition of, I usually try to figure it out in context, usually guess a little, and then move on and enjoy the story or information.  I certainly would never get out of a comfortable chair and run for the dictionary!

When reading an eBook, I now click on any words that I'm not certain of.  I do this because it's easy, I desire to improve my vocabulary, and I realize that if I know the correct meaning of the word, it will afford me a deeper understanding of the text.  I think of all the reluctant readers who don't like to read because of their underdeveloped vocabulary (among many other reasons), and how this definition feature on eReaders will possibly improve vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension.  Another study to conduct in the future ....

The Kindle: the first experimental step and mistakes made

The first eReader that the high school library purchased was the Kindle in January 2010.  At that time, it was the only eReader device that other educational institutions (including higher ed) were experimenting with.  We had already purchased eBooks that were accessible via the Internet (through our online catalog), but I wanted to give students the opportunity to read books on a mobile device and begin getting some feedback on their experience.  With technology, you can theorize forever about what "might" work, but unless we actually purchased the technology, experimented with it, and got it into the hands of the users, we would never really know its effectiveness, so the Kindle was purchased.

After examining the Kindle, we discovered a list of pros and cons:

The Pros -
  • E-ink technology (probably the best feature of the Kindle)
  • Text is readable in extremely bright sunlight (on the three days that bright sunlight actually occurs in Northeast Ohio ;-)  
  • No glare from screen, even when using a light for night time reading
  • Lightweight (easy to hold and carry)
  • Inexpensive
  • Battery life is approximately 10 days
  • Outstanding selection of books
  • Easy to purchase books (also a negative which I'll discuss)
  • Fairly simple navigation
  • Dictionary
  • Text to speech feature (if enabled by publisher)
  • Wi-fi and 3G options, although only 3G was available when I purchased the Kindle
The Cons -
  • No pagination; uses percentages of the book completed--would make it difficult for students to find a passage when discussing in a classroom setting
  • Outdated and difficult navigation for looking up words, adding notes, etc.  Most users are more familiar with and expect a touch screen/keyboard on mobile devices
  • Small screen
  • No password protection on purchases (that has changed on the newer models)
  • Cannot borrow books from a public library
Student Use, Security & Technology Issues

I purchased approximately $50. worth of Amazon books, including popular young adult fiction, and downloaded many of the free classics for students and teachers to read.  In all honesty, there wasn't a line of students waiting outside the library door waiting to use the Kindle (that was the story when the iPad arrived later that spring!).   So I started marketing it to faculty and students and allowed them to take the Kindle home so that they could offer some feedback.  The feedback mostly consisted of being dazzled by the technological aspect of the device rather than how it impacted reading comprehension, but I think that was partially due to the newness of the technology and not having any official studies conducted on using the device or classroom assignments/programs connected with the Kindle.  The one positive feedback was from students with special needs who enjoyed reading using the Kindle, so that was worth the purchase if it motivated reluctant readers to complete their reading assignments.

The two technology/security issues we had were credit card security and CIPA.  The Kindle was designed for the individual user, so the one click shopping experience is a feature that is a great marketing tool for Amazon and a nice user feature when individuals are purchasing books, but when a device is available for student check-out, it can become problematic.  After many frustrating phone calls to Amazon, we finally found out that the only way to protect any students or staff from accidentally or purposely downloading books was to remove the credit card from the account after every authorized purchase.  A bothersome step, but it was manageable.

The other issue that could not be resolved was that the Kindle 3G is not compliant with CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act), which I didn't realize at the time of purchase because no one--to my knowledge--was using the eReaders in the public schools yet.  Although access to the Internet was still in beta format on the Kindle when we purchased it, the Internet was still accessible unfiltered to students.  Currently, Amazon offers wi-fi only, which is the only option that public school libraries should consider.  Due to the lack of wi-fi availability on the Kindle and no password protection, I started looking at the iPad and the Barnes and Noble Nook as other options.  However, I do think the Kindle is a great choice as long as it is wi-fi and it meets the needs of the students and the purpose and goals of the library and/or classroom use are aligned with what the Kindle offers.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Prezi: Print or Pixels? eBooks and eReaders in the School Library

This past fall, Jim Martin (Media Services Coordinator for NEOnet), and I gave a presentation on using eReaders in the school library at the OELMA (Ohio Educational Library Media Association) conference.   (The presentation can be found at under “Print or Pixels? eBooks and eReaders in the School Library.”)   This presentation chronicled the implementation and use of eReader devices, iPads, and eBooks in the Copley high school library, and Jim was able to share his expertise on the technical aspects of the eReaders and how to catalog the eBooks.  

Due to that presentation, there have been many requests for information about eReader user agreements, which type of eReaders seem to work with the students, how to access eBooks, etc.  I've enjoyed answering questions and especially learning what other libraries are doing in the eReader world.  I'm new to blogging, but I hope to post useful items so that they can be accessed from this site.  And...look for an updated Prezi in late spring.  As we all know, in the world of technology . . . a few months can amount to a completely different landscape of tools and applications.

Why a Blog on eReaders, eBooks, and iPads?

I just returned from the educational technology (eTech) conference in Columbus, Ohio overflowing with new theories and applications for using technology in education, but I have to say that the one word that keeps rising to the surface of my thoughts is “choko.”  Phill Nosworthy, an Austrailan thought leader for Beyond Chalk (, spoke about the choko (probably similar to the American zucchini), which can be a substitute or filler that is used in cooking/baking because the choko takes on the flavor of the foods that it is combined with.

Phill used the choko as a metaphor for teachers (and librarians) because we often take on the “flavor” of the environment that we “stew” in.  This can be a positive thing because it can provide a sense of community and combined purpose, but it can also be problematic if our theory/teaching/thinking becomes so similar that we lose sight of alternate perspectives.

This choko metaphor struck a chord with me.  Many years ago, I remember asking permission from my principal if the school library could host a slightly controversial young adult author.  When I listed some potential concerns, the response I received was…. “Sometimes you just need to take a risk.”  In other words, I was given the permission and grace to fail.  What a sense of freedom that offered, and it also opened up creative opportunities.

I’ve often thought of that moment, especially when I’m making difficult decisions.  I must admit, there have been many times that I have been the “choko” who blends in or takes on the flavor of what’s popular, easy, or “safe,” while ignoring that unique and creative seasoning I can add to the “stew,”  but…there are other times that I resist taking on the flavor of the ordinary and risk failure.  I’m thankful that I have supportive administrators in my district, who have encouraged me this past year to take a risk and embark on the journey of piloting and implementing eReaders and iPads in the high school and middle school libraries as well as write about the successes and failures; so far it’s been an exciting path.

So…why the blog?  In others words…I’m finally getting to my purpose statement ;-)

  • To chronicle the implementation and use of eReader devices, iPads, and eBooks in the high school library.
  • To compile any research data and interpretation that results from my experience or any studies that I conduct with eBooks/eReaders.
  • To provide a resource of current information for other librarians or technology/media coordinators who want to learn more about using eReaders, iPads, and eBooks in the library and classroom.
  • To connect with others who know much more than I do about mobile devices and learn from their expertise.