So. I’ve made my point that I love books and dislike e-books. But I will admit that digital books have some advantages, especially in realm of education.
Today’s students live in a technology-based world. Even my 5-year-old pretends to text on a calculator! Kids are used to having their phones, Ipods, and PSPs within reach at all times. They are computer-literate and internet-savvy. Encyclopedia? Research from books? Unheard of. They all do research using – you guessed it – Google. So why not put textbooks on a screen? Make them interactive? Embed links, games, and videos? I know every one of my high school students would love that! One of my friends who teaches high school thinks that every HS student should be given an Ipad. Textbooks should be digitally loaded on them. Students can do multimedia projects and research on them. Sounds good.
But it’s not just about satisfying media-crazed teens. Digital book readers have a read-aloud function. That means that ESL students and special education students who struggle with reading heavy academic texts (the page kind, not the cell phone kind) can hear the words being read to them! Perhaps a translation program could be embedded so that ESL students could click on an unknown word and get a translation of it in their own language. Or a synonym program could be used to where a student could click on a simpler synonym of a difficult academic word. (In teacher jargon, a 1 cent word instead of a 10 cent word. Get instead of acquire.)
Lastly, since e-book readers are small and are similar in size and sleekness to Ipads, Ipods, etc., students would probably be more willing to read books on them than to pick up an actual paper book. “I hate to read,” is a sentence heard by EVERY high school teacher AT LEAST once a week. (Okay, maybe not the AP teachers, but you get my drift.) Books, as sad as it is, have lost their – well, their mojo. Books aren’t sexy anymore. But Kindles, Nooks, Readers, etc. ARE! Plus, many libraries now offer digital copies of books in addition to physical versions. Now I love books, but more than that, I love to READ. If digital readers would help encourage that love for reading in more young people, I’d be on board (I might hate it, but I’d support it.).
“I cannot live without books.” – Thomas Jefferson