At Ball State University, a grant-funded project provided Kindles to students in Studies in Educational Technology. While using the readers for their own study, the future teachers also experienced firsthand how electronic books can be used in teaching and learning.
Now that they are firmly established in the consumer sector, electronic books are beginning to demonstrate capabilities that challenge the very definition of reading. Audiovisual, interactive, and social elements enhance the informational content of books and magazines. Social tools extend the reader’s experience into the larger world, connecting readers with one another and enabling deeper, collaborative explorations of the text. The content of electronic books and the social activities they enable, rather than the device used to access them, are the keys to their popularity; nearly everyone carries some device that can function as an electronic reader, and more people are engaging with electronic books than ever before. New, highly interactive publications demonstrate that quite apart from their convenience, electronic books have the potential to transform the way we interact with reading material of all kinds, from popular titles to scholarly works. Electronic books are being explored in virtually every discipline, and the advantages for students make this technology worth pursuing.
Students in Business Computing at RMIT University participated in an electronic book pilot using custom course material developed from the traditional textbook. Students using the electronic books were able to delve more deeply into the material, access related information beyond what the instructor provided, and use the device’s highlighting and annotation tools to take notes in the digital text.
Raven Biology, an electronic text from publisher Inkling, brings the study of this science to life with detailed illustrations and animations, in-line keyword definitions, and interactive quizzes embedded in each chapter. This is an example of applying a new interactive form of textbook to a specific discipline. Some disciplines may lend themselves to this form of textbook better than others. With the visual and complex nature of biology, this discipline in particular offers compelling content for this type of new media.
The library at Fairleigh Dickinson University offers a selection of electronic readers that students may check out, including Amazon Kindles, Sony Readers, and iPod Touches. Each reader includes a selection of reference books, popular titles, literature, and more.
- Inking looks promising for e-textbooks
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