e-Book Readers, are they the future?

October 27, 2009

On Ollie Bray’s blog a comment was made on Ollie’s post about e-Books.

Neil commenting on the blog said:

I don’t think e-book readers will cut it. They will please a few – gadgeteers and the followers of Oprah (or would that be Jonathan Ross over here?) – but I think they will only be a niche product. After all, you can already read e-books on many phones, netbooks and PCs, so why would you want a specialist device?

Which would you rather spend on – a class set of Kindles (at £175 each) or a set of iPods touches (@£149)? No-brainer really. ANd you are never going to get a head to spend that kind of money twice.

I do agree that in terms of functionality that the iPod touch (currently) is superior to the Kindle, but you do need to ask what functionality are you looking for when purchasing a device.

I am going to disagree with  Neil about the e-Book, personally I think they are going to be one of the next big technologies.

Many negative things were said about early mp3 players and notably the iPod. If you go back to 2001 the following comments were made which are not exactly positive about Apple’s music player.

The iPod does cost considerably more than the nearest competitor with a portable hard drive…

…analyst Tim Deal dinged the $399 price as “a little high.”

“I question the company’s ability to sell into a tight consumer market right now at the iPod’s current price.”

“Apple lacks the richness of Sony’s product offering. And introducing new consumer products right now is risky, especially if they cannot be priced attractively,”

Stephen Baker said that the iPod will likely stand out for its large storage capacity but predicted that the device may have trouble digging out a niche in the market.

The iPod has “good features, but this is a pretty competitive category,” Baker said. “The question is whether people want that robust of a feature set with that high of a price.”

Look where the iPod is now!

Let’s take Niel’s comment:

After all, you can already read e-books on many phones, netbooks and PCs, so why would you want a specialist device?

If you rewrite this as

After all, you can already listen to mp3s on many phones, netbooks and PCs, so why would you want a specialist device?

That’s what many people said about the iPod and the early mp3 players.

e-Book readers are supplementary to netbooks, iPhones, iPods and PCs, not replacements.

They also have one big advantage over those devices for e-Books and that is battery life.

I have to charge my iPhone on a daily basis, I charge my e-Book reader once a week.

For me the Kindle and Sony Reader are generation one devices, and as the technology matures and changes I expect to see better and smarter products.

The rumours are that Apple and Microsoft will both release an e-Book Reader type product in the next twelve months. These devices will certainly raise the profile of e-Books and the market for devices to read them.

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100 ways to use a VLE – #7 Assignment Submission

July 4, 2009

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We often ask learners to submit assignments, often with a top sheet and to get it signed in. All this takes time and staff.

So why don’t we use the tools that we have in the VLE?

Most VLEs like Moodle, have the option of allowing learners to submit assignment electronically. The student uploads their assignment (as an electronic file). The VLE records the time and date of submission and more often then not, gives the student a receipt of their submission.

The tutor can very easily see which students have submitted and which haven’t. Some VLE assignment submission systems can be configured to not accept late submissions, but even if you do, you will be able to see which were late and which were on time.

Using tools such as Turnitin, it is possible to add automatic plagarisim detection to the submission process, flagging up assignments which may or may not need to be checked.

So why don’t we do it more often?

Well there are lots of reasons and some of them are quite valid.

If you submit electronically, then you need to mark them electronically, and some staff have reservations about marking on a screen. Either they don’t like looking at a screen for a long time or they don’t have easy access to a computer. Also though tools such as Word do allow for commenting and annotation, they are not the most intuitive of tools to use. As a result they will often print the assignments out, this means instead of twenty learners printing out one document each, the lecturer will be printing twenty out, which takes time, the time which was supposed to be saved by the learners submitting their documents electronically.

The learner will need access to the VLE to submit their work. If they don’t have access from home, will they be able to do so from college. It makes sense to think about the deadline for assignments as a result.

What about when the assignment submission process fails? The VLE doesn’t work or falls over. Well common sense approach works here, in the same way if the member of staff who collects physical assignments was ill, you just work around the problem and provide the students with a different way of submitting work, or change the deadline.

What about if learners don’t want to submit electronically? If as a institution you are embracing the concept of personalisation, then electronic submission may be just one way in which students can submit work, you may want to offer them a choice.

One solution which staff may want to think about is changing the way they mark electronic documents, stop thinking of them as electronic paper documents that you “write” on, but as digital files and as a result use digital technologies to mark them. What about using audio or video to provide feedback? Record your thoughts and feedback as you mark the document; then the student will be able to listen to your feedback as a virtual you and they go through the assignment. The JISC Sounds Good project did some interesting work on this. One of the tutors at Gloucestershire College has also undertaken a trial with recording feedback, and has had very positive feedback from the learners, who have taken more notice of the audio feedback and found it more useful.

Of course some assignments just don’t fit electronic submission, a poster for example. However just because one format of assignment doesn’t fit, doesn’t mean we should never use electronic submission. Electronic submission actually makes it possible for a wider range of assessments to be submitted than just written assignments. Learners can submit videos, audio files, muti-media presentations. With tools such as Google Docs, wikis, Prezi, Slideshare and other online presentation sites it is now much easier for learners to demonstrate their understanding.

Submitting assignments through the VLE is one way in which you can increase use of the VLE and make it easier for learners to get a better understanding of how it works and more choice on what and how they submit their work.

Photo source.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #024: Sounds good to me

June 21, 2009

edirolrecording0609

Audio recording, sound recording, podcasting, content and then some.

This is the twenty-fourth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Sounds good to me.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Sounds good to me

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is joined by Mell Turford and David Sugden.

Shownotes

  • To follow…

In at number two…

February 19, 2009

Those of you who read the blog of a regular basis will know that as well as the blog I also (with a group of e-learning friends) record a podcast.

You can listen to the podcast on the blog, there is a simple Flash based player, so you don’t need to download it to listen to it.

You can download the mp3 file from the blog which then allows you to transfer it to a mp3 player, an iPod, burn it to CD, listen to it on your computer, or on your phone.

You can also subscribe to the podcast, either through the blog RSS feed (which incorporates all the blog postings and media files uploaded) or through the podcast RSS feed. You can subscribe via applications such as iTunes, Juice or your browser.

Finally you can subscribe to the podcast through the Apple iTunes Store. I submitted the podcast to the iTunes Store last October to the Educational Technology Podcasts section of the store.

It is proving reasonably popular and the podcast is generally always in the top twenty, quite pleased though today to see it is in at number two!

In at number two...

Now if you go and look I suspect we may have dropped a fair few places, the top podcasts list does change on a daily basis dependent on how many subscribers you have and how many new people subscribe.

I am working on a workflow document which describes the process I use for recording the podcast, it is currently a work in progress but you can view it here.

Apart from an (extra long) break over Christmas I am tying to post the podcast on a weekly basis, every Sunday. Always interested to hear about topics people would like us to talk about.


Edirol R-09HR

April 6, 2008

I have been using an Edirol R-09 for a few weeks now and have ordered some for our MoLeNET project (the Glossy project).

Eidrol have now released a new version the R-09HR.

From Engadget:

Edirol released its high-end R-09 portable recorder back in 2006, and now they’re taking things up a notch with the R-09HR, which can handle 96KHz recordings (up from 48KHz) and supports SDHC up to 8GB instead of the 4GB max of the old model. The recorder also includes a monitor speaker, remote control and playback speed control — a big win for fans of Alvin and the Chipmunks or for those who need to transcribe interviews, two camps which we conveniently find ourselves in.

It will cost £249.


cn we uz mobz 4 LernN?

September 4, 2007

Today I ran my mobile learning workshop which I felt went really well.

It was much less about me talking, but much more about the delegates talking to each other and sharing their practice, issues and solutions.

I did ask people to scribe their ideas and then got carried away answering questions that I forgot to collect their collective writings in. Please pass them onto me, or hand them into the conference reception and I will pick them up from there.

In the workshop I demonstrated some mobile technologies and explained mobile learning scenarios that we are already using at Gloucestershire College or are planning to develop further over the next few years.

We had quite a bit of fun with Bluetooth, and for the first time ever, my Bluetooth photo printer was “hijacked” and some people printed their own pictures to them!

Excellent.

I did also show how to print from my Nokia N73 to the printer.

I also demonstrated ShoZu which worked well.

As usual never enough time to cover everything and discuss everything.


Britain enjoying ‘digital boom’

August 23, 2007

From a BBC News article:

The net, mobile phones and MP3 players are revolutionising how Britons spend their time, says Ofcom’s annual report.

It reveals that older media such as TV, radio and even DVDs are being abandoned in favour of more modern technology.

It also shows that women, in some age groups, are the dominant web users and older web users spend more time online than any group.

Among children it showed that web and mobile phone use is growing at the expense of video games.

Some may not believe that DVDs are old technology already! However with places like Tesco selling DVD players for £17 and with the advent of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, downloadable films and the growth of YouTube, we must start to think of them as an old technology.

DVD

I find it interesting that the internet and the web are no longer just the playground for the young male geek, but now that women and older people are starting to use the web and are in some cases the largest group using the web. This does mean that we have real opportunities in education to continue (start) using the web to support and enhance learning.

As for children moving from games to using the web and mobile phones more, does this mean with some in the education sector looking at games for learning, have they missed the boat already and should start loo king at other areas and ignore games?

As for the growth in mp3 players (read iPod) is it time we started in FE to podcast more?

Some things to think about.