Posts Tagged ‘eReader’

“Playing” with Technology All Day Long

October 13, 2011 2 comments

Each school year predictably begins with Seattle Pacific University professors asking me one of two questions:

  1. What new technologies are you examining? Or,
  2. How do you keep up with all the changes?

Professors who ask the first question usually follow up with a statement about how fun my job must be to be able to spend all day “playing” with technology. Professors who ask the second question usually follow up with a statement about how they were just getting use to the last round of changes and they have no idea how I can keep track of all the updates. I enjoy the challenge of helping both groups as they seek be successful in their use of instructional technology.

According to Smaldino (p. 1-2), instructional technology is the “integration of teacher and student use and knowledge of tools and techniques to improve student learning.” This definition encourages me to develop better workshops and one-to-one trainings and to continually search for new tools and techniques that can enhance learning.

So, what new technologies are we looking at this fall? Here is a quick table:

Tool Description
eBeam Mobile interactive whiteboard tool that allows professors to take the “Smartboard” with them to class.
StagePresence LectureCapture tool that increases social presence by capturing presenter as part of the presentation. Presenter uses gestures to control presentation.
Edmodo Private Facebook-like social networking tool used primarily by K-12 schools to communicate with students and parents. Free learning management system (LMS) from Blackboard that allows professors/teachers to have up to 5 free online courses using the latest version of Blackboard Learn.
Instructure New LMS that integrates Web 2.0 tools such as Google Docs and Twitter.
NookStudy Electronic Textbook Reader that works on Mac and PC. Limited integration with Blackboard.
iOS 5 and Various iPad Apps including: Fuse, ScreenChomp, VoiceThread New iPhone, iPad operating system has great features that eliminate need for home button. Fuse is for capturing video, ScreenChomp is a whiteboarding tool and VoiceThread is a reflection/asynchronous discussion tool.

How do I keep up with all the changes? First and most importantly, I have excellent colleagues in Instructional Technology Services (ITS) who are dedicated to providing great services for faculty. Janiess Sallee, Dominic Williamson, and David Rither do such great work managing their projects that I rarely have to deal with workflow issues that may consume other managers’ days. We also have a great student staff who willingly learn new technologies and are able to explain the costs and benefits to us from a learner’s perspective. Second, I have a great personal learning network (PLN) of colleagues around the world through my relationships with, MERLOT, Sloan-C, NWACC, and educators I interact with on Twitter. Finally, I have been encouraged to teach courses in the School of Education, which allows me to see first hand what works for those on the bleeding edge as well as those who want to apply instructional technology in a more conventional manner.

I consider it a joy and a privilege to serve the faculty and students of Seattle Pacific University. My department wants to help professors be successful with instructional technology, regardless of their skill level. And yes, it is fun to get to “play” with technology all day. 🙂

Smaldino, S. E., Lowther, D. L., & Russell, J. D. (2011).Instructional technology and media for learning. Boston, Mass: Allyn & Bacon.

Are eBooks the Next Big Thing?

March 8, 2011 6 comments

A question often asked by faculty is “What is the next big thing in educational technology?” A great resource for finding answers to this question is the annual Horizon Report jointly published by the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE.  Each year this report provides a section titled Technologies to Watch where educators can learn about emerging technologies projected to impact teaching and learning over the next five years.  The 2011 report features six technologies: electronic books, mobiles, augmented reality, game-based learning, gesture-based computing, and learning analytics.  Let’s take a  closer look at electronic books, which are expected to move towards mainstream adoption during this calendar year.

Electronic books or eBooks have been around for years, but cost and ease of use has prevented widespread adoption in higher education.  Recently Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (NOOK) have dropped the price of their eReader devices to about the price of one or two textbooks (~$140).  At the same time, they have continued to improve quality of experience, making devices lighter with easier-to-read text.  They have also made it possible to read books on numerous devices, including mobile phones, PCs and Macs.  Amazon’s Kindle allows readers to highlight and take notes on any of these devices and then review their highlights and comments, as well as other readers’ shared notes, at Barnes and Noble took a separate approach for education.  They created a separate software-only product called NOOKstudy, which takes advantage of the larger screens of PCs and Macs to give students a richer experience including multimedia and built-in tools for note-taking, paper-writing and test-prepping. NOOKstudy can also integrate with Blackboard, allowing instructors to post links to specific sections of a book.  There are other eReader tools on the market such as Inkling for the iPad, which plans to have over 100 college textbook titles for Fall 2011.

During Winter Quarter 2011, I am teaching EDTC 6433: Teaching with Technology to graduate education and nursing students. Students are reading Prensky’s Teaching Digital Natives using either a Kindle or a Kindle eReader app.  Students then write reflections in their blog (example) about each chapter and comment on their experience with eReaders.  About 20% of the students are using a Kindle, while the rest are reading the book using the Kindle app on a computer or mobile device.  Student comments show they like the convenience and price of an eBook.  Some indicate they read faster and feel more organized using an eReader, while others say they do not like reading on a screen and miss making notes in the margins. Students particularly dislike not knowing exactly where they are in a book because of an inability to do tactile tasks such as grasp the remaining pages in the current chapter with thumb and index finger. There have been some technology challenges.  Kindle’s Public Hightlights feature has not worked for some chapters of this book, an error that Amazon has not been able to resolve.  Several students reported disappearing notes and crashing eReaders when using a PC.  Overall, however, the experience has been worthwhile as students know they will soon be facing questions about the use of eReaders in their own institutions.  They appreciate an opportunity to experience eReaders as learners as it will help them be informed decision makers in their own teaching environments.

Are you considering the adoption of electronic books with your students?  If so, I would be happy to visit with you and tell you more about my experiences and other available  eBook options.  You may also be interested in my students’ blogs and my collection of social bookmarks related to eReaders and eBooks.

Can an iPad replace textbooks?

April 4, 2010 2 comments

Dear iPad Owners,

I hope you had a great first day with your new purchase. Did you stay up late last night reading a novel?  Was it sitting there on your night stand, tuned to your favorite newspaper when you woke up this morning? Any chance there is a “Make Coffee” app?

Okay, I must admit that I am a little jealous of  you.  Given all the negative press, it was a bold move to stand in line at the Apple Store or at your front door waiting for the UPS guy.  I was tempted to join you but kept telling myself I must resist… No camera… Price needs to be lower… Is the Apple Store still open?… No 3G yet (forget 3G, I’m waiting for 4G)… Too many proprietary peripherals… Are there any left?… Just a big iPhone… No multitasking… Where are my car keys?

Well, I made it through my first full day without buying an iPad.  Good for my bank account but not so good for my mind as it is racing with lots of questions for you.  As an instructional technologist, my first questions revolve around how the iPad can benefit education.  Specifically, I am interested in the iPad’s ability to replace textbooks.  What are your first impressions about the iPad’s ability to address major issues other eReaders have encountered when attempting to replace traditional texts?

(I am expanding on three issues Weili Dai raised in a recent eSchoolNews article.)

  1. Currency – Will it be easy to update an eText, allowing content to maintain currency? How will readers know if an an update has been made?
  2. Cost – Will eTexts be reasonably priced? Are open texts and existing PDF-formatted articles easy to access?
  3. Weight – Do you quickly get tired holding the iPad in common reading positions?
  4. Reliability – Does the eReader app respond in a consistent manner during common electronic reading activities? (e.g. turning pages, jumping to the table of contents, searching for key words, looking up definitions)
  5. Notes-worthy – How easy is it to take notes? Are there options to embed notes within texts or export notes to a word processing document?
  6. Accessibility – Can a text be read to you? Are there  learning disabilities affordances such as highlighting words or groups of words as they are being read? How easy is it to change font sizes? Are there options for users with limited use of their fingers?

Well that’s all for now.  Hopefully you can respond to this message using WordPress’s new iPad app.  I appreciate any help you can provide as I wait for the perfect tablet computing device… Do you think BestBuy has any left?



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