The Pros & Cons: Tablets vs. Textbooks

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stochastic excursion
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Re: Bringing e-readers out to the developing world
stochastic excursion   1/26/2011 12:41:57 PM
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It's easy to see that there's cost advantages in publishing content to e-readers vs. printed hardcopy.  Will that extra margin go to the author?  Doubtful, but I guess it depends how good the author's agent is.  The publishing business model looks like it has to go through some changes, much like the music industry.  That leads to the question of whether people will still be able to produce great works of literature.  If your faith in man is strong, the answer's yes, but let's not be too sanguine.  The next dark ages may not be ushered in by great libraries being razed to the ground, but by a little kindle.  Of course we're too smart to let that happen.

Issues of privacy raised almost go without saying.  Most technological advances in the information age tend to further marketeering and data mining of the minutiae in the realm of personal habits.  So standing up for privacy is nearly equatable with a Luddite mentality, but let's take a closer look.  There have been advances that reinforce the autonomy of individuals and organizations--pretty good cryptography is a good example--but these tend to raise the hackles, rightly or wrongly, of those that advocate for expanded authoritarian police powers.  So whether technology invades our privacy becomes more of a policy issue.

TaimoorZ
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Distraction level
TaimoorZ   1/26/2011 12:08:10 PM
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If tablets are to be used in place of textbooks and exercise books in classes during lectures, I think they would create a huge distraction for students. Students would be tempted to check emails, browse websites or perform other activities on the tablet device. With the good old text books, the distraction level is minimal.

Eldredge
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Re: Bringing e-readers out to the developing world
Eldredge   1/26/2011 7:23:02 AM
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On a personal note, I just find it easier / more comfortable to read from a book rather than an electronic device. Perhaps it's just the fsamiliarity thing, but I do think you bring up excellent points.

Hardcore
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Re: Bringing e-readers out to the developing world
Hardcore   1/25/2011 6:34:11 PM
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There is  an interesting article here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1347058/Why-ugly-fonts-messy-handwriting-make-easier-remember-youve-read.html

Highlighting a number of issues related to E-readers and material retention, however I think that most users are overlooking a number of key issues with electronic copies

1. Retainability.

I buy a book, and then will read it a few times, throw it in a corner and then come back to it a few years later, unfortunately many of these 'e' readers are not cross compatible in the way they secure some book copies, which means when you up-grade/replace your hardware there is a chance you 'loose' books.

Not to mention that once your batteries go defective or your device fails , you are left totally without access to any of the material you have paid for, if their was ever another war, that impacted the infrastructure, all the written material stored in that format would be lost.

2. Privacy.

As each month goes by people are giving up more and more of their privacy, now they are allowing advertisers access to the sorts of material they read,the number of times they read it, and the passages of text the read the most (hay ladies now they can track which pages you read the most in any romantic novels)

There is actually a re-surgence it 'romantic' novels for women becasue they  now think  have a 'safe' place to keep them (inside the E-reader), in reality the options of them being spied on secretly just increased several fold.

3. Cost.

The cost of the material does not reflect the loss of transport costs/ paper/ storage/ production, and you can bet that the Authors are not better off under the new system.

Where possible I will be sticking with 'real' books as long as i can.

PG0236700
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Tablets vs. Textbooks
PG0236700   1/25/2011 5:52:49 PM
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Tablet - Considering the infrastructure to support this device for eductation purpose take much resources and over long period before it can be proven qualify to be a perfect mean for education.

Softcopies to support this education tool is a big issue.

Also, what happen if the tablet reliability and robust enough in your routine usage ? and carrying it around is not definitely sure that its programs and data will be secure enough at minimum risk of virus infection and software corruption, hardware malfunction, mishandling etc... It is the matter of total lost if any of the possibilties happened. These are some points needed to take into consideration against the conventional text book.

Well, it is a total different scenario of using the tablet for education purpose.

JLS
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tabets vs. textbooks
JLS   1/25/2011 4:55:07 PM
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Having two boys in high school, I can see the advantage of having soft textbooks, but Ipads are not the right format.  A netbook is a more practical format since it includes a keyboard and protects the screen when it isn't being used and carried around.  The probelm I have is that it is too general purpose and with my kids, they would be on YouTube or blogging instead of paying attention to their studies.  It's just too easy for kids to get distracted (adults, too!).  What is needed is a "student OS" that is intended for doing school work, not general purpose computing.  It would lock out inappropriate applications and web sites without a password.  It would be good for note taking, support word processing, powerpoint, and Excel.  There are certainly web sites that are useful for getting information, but there needs to be limits on what can be accessed.  Since most school books are color, the screen needs to support a full color display.  And it needs to be able to network with a printer. 

Put that together and you have a winner

Barbara Jorgensen
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Re: Bringing e-readers out to the developing world
Barbara Jorgensen   1/25/2011 4:09:39 PM
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Jennifer--thanks for the additional perspective on how these tools can help beyond cost-savings and profit margins. What a great idea. I can't imagine my life without books (I still read them the old-fashioned way) and yet take them for granted. Almost all technology was originally invented to improve lives, and I can't think of a better way than bringing e-books and e-readers to under-served areas. Cell phone technology is a brilliant solution to a problem too few of us even think about. Thanks for spreading the word. :-)

Susan Fourtané
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Re: Tablets vs textbooks
Susan Fourtané   1/25/2011 3:42:53 PM
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Barbara, 

Great and timely topic for a lively discussion! 

Video and good graphics are going to be a fundamental part in teaching some subjects if not all of them. I wouldn't neglect them as a good plus for a device thought for the educational market. 

-Susan

Susan Fourtané
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Re: The Future of Learning
Susan Fourtané   1/25/2011 3:31:20 PM
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Dennis Q, very good points!

What if Apple provided the tablets for the study or gave the university a good discounted price? After all, this study can also serve as a good marketing campaign. 

I am pretty sure manufacturers can produce a very affordable tablet for educational purposes, a tablet that could only include the necessary applications for helping and assisting the learning/teaching process at all levels of education. A tablet that not necessary has to be fancy but practical and useful. 

Note taking using a tablet is just a matter of practice that will see its benefits as soon as some savvy kids develop a smart technique for it. Adaptation and willingness to learn are fundamental here. Also, think of the elementary school kids who start using a tablet as their first way of taking notes, they have nothing else to compare to and are the ones who will show that there is no secret into it. There's a reason why the product is in the market, it has been tested, right? 

-Susan

Jennifer Baljko
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Re: Bringing e-readers out to the developing world
Jennifer Baljko   1/25/2011 2:31:37 PM
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Barbara,

I'm so glad you wrote this post. The topic has been on my mind a lot lately, too. We're just at the beginning stages of exploring the possibilities of bringing e-readers, whether they are Kindles or iPads or Nooks or whatever comes next, into classrooms around the globe.

You may find this interesting as well: Worldreader.org is spearheading an ambitious project to put e-readers in the hands of school children in the developing world, particularly in places where books are incredibly difficult to come by (in many cases, schools in these regions don't have any books in their classrooms at all). They recently launched a program with 500 school kids of various ages in Ghana, and have things in the pipeline for Kenya.

Basically, the idea is that because e-readers run on mobile phone technology, it's much easier to use in countries where Internet connectivity still leaves much to be desired. But, since cell phones and supporting networks are almost everywhere these days, downloading educational material can be done with a push of a button. Just a few days ago, in fact, they pushed electronically more than 23,000 books to the kids in the Ghana program. Like you mentioned, getting content digitized and formatted is a hurdle, as is making the devices more durable for harsher-world climates (Ghana certainly isn't Silicon Valley). The group is working with publishing companies, device makers, and a host of other companies to resolve these issues. It will be a meeting of minds on many fronts.

Let me also mention that one of the co-founders, David Risher, previously held senior positions at Amazon and Microsoft, and also has a strong education background. So, the potential reach and usefulness of these new devices are already catching cross-industry attention. Give it a bit more time, and the wave will spread even further.

For full disclosure, as of just a couple days ago, I am volunteering with Worldreader. I stumbled upon this WSJ article and was completely moved by a fairly simple concept that I jumped at the chance to get involved: Technology can change even more lives in even more profound ways. It's as easy as putting a digital book in the hands of a child in the middle of Africa.

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