Posts Tagged ‘education’

In this new era of digital publishing, we should not only be concerned with the things we can can do in our leisure time, moreover, we should try to find the boundaries of what digital publishing can mean to our education system. First of all, I find it remarkable that online reading still finds very little support in the Dutch school system. Only in New Media Master did I receive the majority of the texts online, but previous studies still favored paper editions over online ones. Another remarkable notion is that e-readers are said to be inaccessible to everybody because they would be too expensive. This reasoning is based on very short term thinking as online reading first of all gives you the option of reading many texts online for free instead of having to buy an expensive reader. Secondly, buying books in PDF or other e-reader friendly formats is often much cheaper than buying the complete book.

A little research on the Internet already provided for a huge range of articles written about this topic. Apple for example implemented the iPod touch in a primary school to further help students who have English as a second language. Though the device has many similarities with the Dictaphone, it seems to me that the ease of saving and recalling information possibly makes it successful. Students could see their progress due to the organizing capabilities of the iPod.

On higher education level, the Abilene Christian University has a pioneering program on mobile reading and learning which they successfully launched in 2008. They experiment with mobile learning in providing students and teachers with an ever present library ‘to offer students and faculty opportunities to experiment with emerging forms of social, informational and media access’. Considering my own experiences, when you do have an e-reader to your availability, you are triggered to take it with you and use it more often. And we seem to move on rapidly; textbook producer Macmillan has launched a software program called Dynamicbooks where teachers can edit their textbooks by adding or deleting parts of the book so it can be more conform with their own lesson material for example. Both Gizmodo and the New York Times refer to this as a Wikipedian way of dealing with the lesson material. Though the idea of everybody being an editor very much appeals to me, we should keep in mind the possible misleading way to transfer information to students as teachers might give a very one sided view on the subject. The academic community should be careful in deciding to apply these techniques on a bigger scale.

At this point, the e-book is still causing me some stress but I can also see the great potential it has for mobile learning environments and efficiency. Though we should not forget the implications this can have on students and definitely don’t think too lightly about this, we have a bright e-future ahead of us.

Last years have been devout to digital publishing and the e-readers. The media made it seem that it was the new big thing and even my mother was considering an iPad. Because I was always annoyed by the enormous spillage of paper during my studies, I too thought it might be time for some digitization of my personal life: the BeBook Neo. It was only just on the Dutch markets, still significantly cheaper than the iPad and several online reviews sounded promising.

Compared to some older versions such as the Kindle and Sony, this version was supposed to offer Wi-Fi connections and open up regular websites. That made it sound more and more like the iPad, but like the review on Pocket Lint shows, reality proved to be less Utopian. Though I am happy with the amount of files you can upload on the reader, reading them can be a pain. The first threshold was the fact that Word documents cannot be opened on the screen. This I find quite remarkable and annoying as it is one of the formats used extensively for texts.

Another problem is the navigation and the zooming. It cost me some time to figure out how to zoom in on the texts correctly, as there are multiple options and my patience with manuals is very limited. When I did figure out how to do it right and get the text on a readable size on my whole screen, I discovered that to fit it all on the page, BeBook automatically cuts of words and sentences in the least discrete way. Reading a text where the last letter of the word is on the next line does not invite to efficiency.

The latter is strengthened by the stylo. BeBook uses a stylo, apart from the control buttons at the bottom of the tablet to navigate. Unlike reviewer Chris Hall, I don’t think this is a problem in itself but the fact that it isn’t very accurate is. I tried to tweak the level of accuracy a few times, but without results. Using the stylo to precisely mark pieces of texts continues to be a bit of a pain.

Another feature of the BeBook Neo is the option to surf the net, at least that’s what it makes believe. The real option, in my opinion stays out. I tried several times to get on my e-mail account and send a short message, but even that took me more than 15 minutes. It does not for example find the WiFi connection automatically and every time you move away from the Internet page, it demands you to connect to the Internet again and go through the whole process all over. Apart from that, it is slow and not very user friendly. But I have to admit that it has helped me out several times in emergency situations where no other means of media were at my service.
All in all, you might ask yourself why I am still trying to work my way around with Onyx Boox newest invention as using it seems to generate more complications than pleasant reading outcomes. The other side of the story is that my information is ever present, when I’m in the train, the waiting room or in a break. Already many times I ended up in a situation where I unexpectedly had to wait for a certain amount of time and where I was more than happy to have my 7000 pages and 298 grams of literature right in my handbag.

All the above, but especially the fact that I have all my article available to me at any moment made me curious as to how digital publications can be of influence in education. What else is there to explore? Can both teachers and students benefit from the new ways to engage? I will dig deeper into the subject in my post about Digital Publishing for Education.

More BeBook Neo reviews:

The E-Reader Store (Dutch)

PC Advisor