Are eBooks a Viable Option for the Classroom?

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As the last days of summer sublimely trickle away, a good portion of the population returns to school. But first, they must do the necessary shopping. New clothes, some unsharpened pencils, Binders, notebooks, and, for an increasing amount of students, e-readers and tablets.

Looking to cut down on the cost of textbooks, some parents have invested in e-readers. Some school districts have even taken the large step of buying e-readers for their entire student body, looking to spare themselves from buying textbooks that will either get lost or become outdated (here’s a map of schools that are using tablet technology). But are school districts taking full advantage of this new technology? It was only two decades ago that we were wondering about the efficacy of computers in the classroom. Forbes has put together a list of four reasons why distributing tablets in classrooms can stumble. The reasons include theft, no new curriculum to go with the new technology, no available wi-fi, and glitchy products.

Here’s a list of ideas of how educators and authors can help make tablets and e-readers a vital part of the classroom, and help the technology mature past its bumpy introduction.

1) Make sure e-readers are not only used for assigned reading or projects. Allow students to explore different books and media — a school’s library doesn’t have to become obsolete just because the school has gone digital. Libraries can be a place where students can borrow e-books from sites like Overdrive, or other companies that let you borrow books. School libraries can also be a place where a school employee can train students on how to use their new technology in diverse ways.

2) Educators should look for quality eBooks that might not have a wide circulation or are by local authors. Self-published books, especially ones for younger audiences that are of extremely high quality can offer the opportunity for the class to meet and interact with the author. Think of a young adult author getting to meet, read to, and work with an entire fifth grade class that just read their book on their tablets. Suddenly, this book you produced yourself is now in the classroom.

3) When writing for students, think about the medium. Anticipate that students will be looking for an interactive experience, one which might include something that enhances their reading, like games, equations, or puzzles. That can make the questions at the end of the chapter seem a lot less boring.

4) If you’re an educator, publish your own eBook! It allows you to take full advantage of the technology while tailoring your students’ learning to your curriculum. If it’s  successful, your book might begin to be used by other teachers.

What ideas do you have to increase e-reader success in schools? As an author, educator, parent, or student, how would you use an e-reader?


5 thoughts on “Are eBooks a Viable Option for the Classroom?”

  1. Pingback: Lulu Blog » Are eBooks a Viable Option for the Classroom? « Info Brewing & Bottling Co.

  2. Pingback: E-Readers in Our Classrooms? Why Not! | Laurence Gagnon

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