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.