By Martin Seto
Imagine being on a campus where there are no
heavy textbooks to lug around. Instead, your textbooks are stored on portable handheld devices that
can be read anywhere, anytime. With so many new
products – and with everyone interested in cutting
costs and paper use – the time is ripe for e-readers
and digital textbooks in the classroom.
Hardware, software and the Internet have combined
to allow a way of distributing knowledge to students
electronically. For example, Blyth Academy, a
Canadian private school, partnered with the publishing companies Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill Ryerson in 2009 to provide each student with a
Sony e-Reader in place of printed textbooks. The
e-readers come already loaded with the course
textbooks, outlines, assignments, reference materials, background reading and personal timetables.
And in California, a free digital textbook initiative
distributes textbooks to high schools through the
state’s website ( www.clrn.org). The digital textbooks
can be read on computers and e-readers.
At the university level, Princeton University gave 50
students Amazon Kindles last fall to help determine
if e-readers can reduce the use of paper at the
institution. E-readers are also being considered as a
college recruitment tool. For example, the Illinois
Institute of Technology in Chicago announced that it
will give Apple iPads to its entire freshman class.
According to www.goodereader.com, there are
currently 23 e-reader models to choose from and
many more are coming to market. But how should
a student choose a model for study purposes
among so many products?
This tip sheet gives students a starting point in
comparing e-readers, taking a closer look at the
major brands, including Amazon’s Kindle DX, Sony
Reader Touch Edition, Apple’s iPad and a Canadian
entry, Kobo. The new touch-screen computers from
HP and DELL are also included in this review. Prices
were accurate in September, 2010.
Technology in the Classroom - Digital Supplement