e-Learning Stuff Podcast #050: Do you like books or do you like reading?

June 13, 2010

James’ keynote recording from the CoFHE Mid West Circle summer event. He talks about eBooks and eBook Readers and the future of reading.

With James Clay.

This is the fifthieth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Do you like books or do you like reading?

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Do you like books or do you like reading?

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes


Do you like books or do you like reading?

June 9, 2010

I recently gave a keynote at the CoFHE Circle Mid West event.

Do you like books or do you like reading?

eBooks and eBook Readers bring new challenges and new opportunities for learning technologists. Sony has the eReader, Amazon the Kindle and now Apple has the iPad. Publishers are now offering more titles as eBooks. There is a huge growth and interest in this new medium.

Some learners prefer physical books and the feel of paper, but do eBooks have the potential to offer more to the reader? Are eBooks a new way for learners to access information and learning? Are they just a digital version of print, ignoring the affordances of new technologies?

How can we use eBooks and eBook Readers? How do we promote their use with learners?

“I don’t like the Kindle”

May 27, 2010

It would appear that students at the University of Washington don’t like using the Kindle compared to use printed books.

In a report in The Seattle Times outlines how some students felt about the Kindle.

Wary of lugging a backpack full of textbooks on the University of Washington campus, Franzi Roesner couldn’t wait to get her hands on a new, lightweight e-reader from Amazon.com.

Soon after receiving a Kindle DX, however, something unexpected happened. Roesner began to miss thumbing through the pages of a printed textbook for the answer to a homework question.

She felt relieved several months later when required reading for one of her classes was unavailable on the Kindle, freeing her to use a regular textbook.

There were some interesting results and comments from the pilot. 80% would not recommend the Kindle as a classroom study aid for example. However 90% liked it for reading for pleasure.

The implication is that the Kindle did not work in the classroom, however as a device to read books it works fine.

The reason as outlined by Roesner is that:

“You don’t read textbooks in the same linear way as a novel.”

This is a lesson that educational publishers need to recognise when publishing content to platforms like the Kindle and the iPad. Though novels are linear and as a result eBook formats can “work” like a printed book, educational books are used differently and as a result eBook versions need to work differently. Students need to be able to move around quickly, annotate and bookmark.

The experiences at the University of Washington show that the issue wasn’t really with the Kindle, but was much more about the format of educational text books in the ebook format.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #048: It’s very warm out there

May 23, 2010

James talks about EdTech 2010, pilots, the iPad, JISC CETIS Mobile Tech Meeting, Android 2.2, Lessig Method and the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2010.

With James Clay.

This is the forty-eighth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, It’s very warm out there

Download the podcast in mp3 format: It’s very warm out there

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes


Shakespeare – iPhone App of the Week

May 11, 2010

Shakespeare – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will also work on the iPod touch.

This week’s App is Shakespeare.

A cooperative project between Readdle and PlayShakespeare.com, the free Shakespeare application puts the complete works of William Shakespeare literally at your fingertips.


This is a nice App that incorporates the complete works of Shakespeare.

All of his plays and sonnets in one iPhone App, accessible and searchable.

So reading books on the iPhone is not the best way of reading books according to most people I have spoken to. However I never see books on the iPhone as a direct replacement for paper books, but as an enhancement and enrichment of the printed book.

For example, imagine a learner is studying Macbeth (or the Scottish Play); more than likely they will buy a printed copy of the play to use for their studies, one they can read, refer to, annotate and make notes in. Where they will find the Shakespeare App useful is having immediate and easy access to the complete works to compare writing, characters or other plays.

Reading books on the iPhone is never going to replace the printed book, but books on the iPhone (and the iPad) is not about replacing the printed version, but providing access to books at a time and place to suit the reader.

Photo source.

100 ways to use a VLE – #19 Reading a book

May 7, 2010

A book, how on earth can you read a book on the VLE?

A book, a printed paper thing!


Of course we are talking about electronic books, e-books.

It doesn’t really matter whether you like or don’t like e-books as the issue isn’t about choosing one over the other, it’s about convenience and ease of use for the learner.

e-Books should really be seen not as an alternative to paper books, but as an addition an enhancement. Learners still may be given or buy a core text book, they will still have access to the library and that collection. Using e-books on the VLE is about increasing access to resources.

For any course, it is very useful for learners to have access to a reading list, a selection of useful books. Having access to those e-books via the VLE makes that reading list really useful.

Generally most VLE platforms can not be used to host commercial e-books, so most of the time you will need to link to whichever e-book platform that your institution decides to subscribe to.
We use the JISC Collections e-Books for FE collection and this uses the Ebray platform. This allows us to link to individual pages within individual books, books and collections (bookself) of books.

We would never expect learners to just use e-books and never use any other books, however having access to e-books allows learners to access a (virtual) library at a time and place to suit them.

So, yes you can read a book on the VLE!

Picture source.

Google to have an e-book store

May 5, 2010

BBC News reports on Google Editions

Google is set to launch its own online e-book store in 2010.

Google Editions books will not be tied to a specific device, unlike rival e-book company Amazon.

The Amazon Kindle is linked to books from the company’s own store and similarly with Apple’s iBookstore.

The article takes account of the scanning done by Google

To date Google has scanned over 12 million books, both in-print and out-of-print, giving it a greater selection of material than either Apple or Amazon.

This action by Google reinforces my opinion about the growth of e-books and e-book readers that I outlined in this blog post.