E Book Readers: Is There A Place For Them In The Science Classroom?

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I’ve recently acquired an e-book reader, a Kindle actually, and now I have one I wonder how I ever survived without it.

I am an avid reader. I’m also one of those sad gits who re-reads novels, most especially Agatha Christie novels. And yes, becuase she wrote 70+ of them, youcan re-read them without losing the enjoyment because you know ‘who done it’.

Personal interest aside, the e-reader got me thinking about e-readers for education. Our biggest dilemma is trying to get the technology into the hands of the students. Why is this difficult? Cost mainly, also we don’t trust some of them to treat them with the same care and respect as a new born child. Lesson after lesson of powerpoints just doesn’t cut it. Just ask the students I made sit through them in the early noughties! Technology in and of itself is no motivator. Especially for a group of people who are growing up along side them.

Can an e-reader help? They are, comparatively, cost efficient and can be loaded with the entire school career worth of texts, notes, assignments and additional what not. Not that we would do that all at once. Better to drip feed them so they can get used to incorporating the new with the old. This would reduce the need for carrying heavy bags, or lockers for textbooks. It would keep the material neat, hard to dog-ear a Kindle or lose pages for that matter and I assume it is also difficult to add miscellaneous body parts to different pages. Perhaps instead, textbooks might even be read!

If we are to solve the new ed-tech paradigm, we must be creative enough to let go of some of our old ways of doing things. Good practice is good practice, but if we have computer assisted drawing software, we don’t all still hand draw everything just because it’s good practice. The point of course is while those who can remember BC (before computers) there is a reason not to use them. However if your only experience is AC (after computers) then why would you think of doing things a different way? Let’s not get scared here, let’s just accept what is and try to work with it. It seems apparent that the emerging technology poised to increase is already ubiquitous coverage of our planet is the hand held, touch sensitive palm top. iPhones, iPads and their knock-offs are well supported and new apps are being created as you read this. Mobile games for science education exist and the range of applications is rapidly increasing.

That aside, the little brother who can’t do all the fancy stuff but has a wealth of information at the press of several buttons just may make an impact of his own. I’m a bit addicted to sending my Kindle word docs and pdfs I’ve either created myself or want to read later. This has taught me something about organising my personal library and cross-referencing so I can find things again. It also allows me to find the highlights and notes I’ve been making as I read through different works. I think this is an important skill which not only assists the students planning to go on to further study, but indeed all lifelong learners.

Whether you’re BC or AC, you have to admit, the technological world is getting smarter, faster and more pervasive. It’s time to stop fighting against it and find ways of incorporating it into our lives. Which reminds me, I think it’s time I sat down and started reading a good book. Anyone got any suggestions?

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