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.