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Jun 3, 2011

The Extinction Of The Backpack‚ Schooling The E-book Reader


Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc., they are the biggest rage in technology right now. And as opposed to many of the gaming devices that are available, e-book readers have the potential to teach as well as entertain. The world of technology is changing the dynamics of not only our everyday life, but the environments in which we learn as well. E-book readers will have a large influence on education in the future.

Summertime is just around the corner. Many schools still provide a summer reading list to prevent their students' minds from turning to mush during the vacation. How wonderful would it be if all students were able to have access to an e-book reader? At the beginning of the summer, they could download all the books on their reading list. Then all summer long‚ taking a family road trip, sitting by the pool, or just relaxing in the sun‚ could have access to any of the books on that list. Wouldn't the number of students who complete their reading list go up?

The benefits of e-book readers are many. Users are able to store thousands of books onto one tiny device than can easily fit in a backpack or even a purse. The screens are gentle on the eyes and give a variety of viewing options according to your preference. There is no need to turn a page or keep the pages propped open. Page turning takes only the push of a button, so readers can be doing other activities while simultaneously reading‚ as exercising at the gym. The definitions for any words the reader may not understand are just a matter of a few clicks away. You can highlight or comment on any particular passage that interest you. Internet and music-playing features are also available on most e-readers. And this is just the beginning. Who knows what advancements they will come up with over the next several years?

Many see the biggest hindrance to e-readers becoming a permanent fixture in education is the cost. The e-readers themselves can be pricey depending on the features you require. And then there is the cost of the books themselves. Most publishing companies have roughly maintained the same costs for their books, whether in an e-book format or physical format. However, as the the process is refined for converting e-books, and standards are developed for distributing and lending them, prices of both e-readers and e-books may change.

Due to initiatives by large companies to convert books into electronic format, most classic literature is now available for free on any e-reader. Little by little, libraries are also becoming involved in e-book lending programs. Now it's only a matter of getting the e-book vendors and book publishers to jump on board. Barnes & Noble has already taken a step towards this by offering a lending program for the Nook, allowing users to check out a book for a one-time, 14-day period. It was also recently announced by Amazon that they will launch a library lending program for the Kindle later this year.

One other aspect that is necessary to take into consideration is how an e-reader could affect the actual learning environment‚ speaking more specifically here about in-class study. So far, most school textbooks are still considered more useful in physical format. Few have been converted to e-books due to the incompatibility of photos and diagrams. As technology improves, this may no longer be an issue for textbooks. The downside to e-readers in class is that it is possible, and even likely, that many students will be easily tempted during a lecture to wander off to a different book or topic on their reader. But when you think about it, what student hasn't let their mind wander off to varying subjects while ignoring the lecture, e-reader or not?

It is clear that with the emerging technology of e-readers, learning environments are on the cusp of change. It is only a matter of time before backpacks become lightweight, and may even become extinct on school campuses.

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