Technology Trends

Originally published on July 6, 2011 on nashru.wordpress.com for EDTECH 501 – Introduction to Educational Technology.

July 6, 2011 – Emerging Technology: Electronic Books and E-Readers. Click the image or link below to view a copy of the blog post on Google Drive.

Image by Everaldo Coehlo, LGPL 2.1

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Everaldo CoehloLGPL 2.1
An original Google Drive upload is also available here

After reviewing The 2011 Horizon Report and considering the applicability of these emerging technologies to my classroom, I decided to further explore the e-readers and electronic books category. In experimenting with several devices that fall into this category of educational technology, I evaluated the feasibility of incorporating these devices into my classroom using three factors: device capabilities, content availability, and other non-technological factors.

I currently own an Apple iPod Touch and have used this to download, store, and work from electronic books and texts. In using this device, I have more recently experimented with Apple’s iBooks app, Amazon’s Kindle app, and other PDF readers. I find the portability of the device and the attendant availability of the content in these apps to be of great value, especially as my work sometimes requires that I travel and teach or prepare from home. While still somewhat limited in terms of usability, I find that useful content is becoming more abundant, though most of this content is only reference material. Traditionally, the music playback feature of my Apple device has been helpful to me in teaching situations and, I expect, will continue to be of value in future settings.

I have also recently experimented with the Amazon Kindle (traditional e-ink), and while I like the display (as many do) and the feel of the reader in my hands, I find two significant limitations which diminish the likelihood of using this in my classroom, now and in the foreseeable future. First, there is no official scripture book available in the Kindle Store at the present time. Access to official scripture text is not only important, but required in our program. Second, even with the bookmarking and navigating capabilities that the newer Kindle models boast, the current device features are not enough for the frequent and intensive cross-referencing and annotating that is required of our students.

The non-digital barriers that I must face if I enter my classroom with e-readers and electronic books are perhaps of greatest concern to me. I do not have much autonomy in choosing what forms of educational technology may enter my classroom, even in my own hands and let alone in the hands of my students. I do, however, see promise in the institution of e-readers as an out-of-class alternative for our students, especially in situations where the traditional structure of the classroom can be flipped. This may be the only current prospect for future integration.

In conclusion, notwithstanding my personal desire to incorporate the portable and versatile technology available in current e-reader technologies, the lack of content catered to our curriculum as well as lingering device limitations and other non-technological factors make the integration of these devices into my classroom impracticable at the present time. Perhaps in the future my students will find themselves increasingly using these devices in their personal lives and, as page 9 of The 2011 Horizon Report points out, taking advantage of the ever-growing social interaction opportunities these devices and their content are becoming capable of providing.

While e-reader technology and electronic books are becoming an ever more viable alternative for traditional education settings (Johnson, 2011), I believe that we are still several years from incorporating these into our system.

References:

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

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