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E-books and reading on mobile phones

Using mobile technologies for learning

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Gráinne Conole
17 September 2009

With the emergence of a number of reasonable cheap e-book readers and better interfaces on new generation phones like the iphone, the issue of how these can be used for learniing becomes more prominent. In addition, there are now a number of excellent sources of free e-books. So the questions are:

  • What are the benefits of these tools for learners, how might they be used?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • Are there any good case studies/examples of how these are being used in education?
  • Are there particular ways in which learning activiites can be structured to take advantage of these tools?

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Juliette Culver
11:17am 17 September 2009

One of the talks I went to at ALT-C mentioned e-book readers - They had some interesting issues with copyright because they wanted to give the students the readers with content pre-loaded onto them.

I've read a couple of books using stanza on my iphone. Think there are certain sorts of writing that are more pleasant to read on a phone than others, but can't put my finger on the difference.

The Myth of the Paperless Office is a really interesting read took, though more wide-ranging than just about reading from paper. 


Gráinne Conole
11:27am 17 September 2009

In fact you pointed me to the stanza thing! I agree with you about different types of writing, but its great to have on your iphone, anywhere, so that when you are bored you always have plenty to read. I am finding my iphone totally essential now, how did I survive before. One of the most useful apps is the spanish dictionary i have, totally brilliant.

Juliette Culver
12:39pm 17 September 2009

Yes - the times I have read books were times when I didn't expect to stuck somewhere! Though tend to read on instapaper to read articles, more than stanza to read books. I find I can't read academic papers on my iphone either - have to have them on paper.

My one bugbear is the price of e-books - if they were about half the price I'd be tempted to buy them, but I always find myself thinking that I could just buy a nicer hard copy (especially as second-hand prices are usually cheaper than the e-book price).

Anne Jelfs
3:17pm 17 September 2009

Have you seen the developments that Disabled Student Services are doing with the Digital Audio Project?  These have some ebook functionality and still at a fairly early stage but could be one way that students could interact with course material. 

Juliette Culver
4:16pm 17 September 2009

Is that related to DAISY? I must admit that I don't really know enough about that - I seem to keep missing the presentations about it at the events for readers!

Gráinne Conole
5:26pm 17 September 2009

No I havent Anne - do you have a link you could add? Sounds interesting.

Anne Jelfs
8:18am 18 September 2009

Yes Juliette it is related to DAISY and there is lots of info on their website

Gráinne Conole
8:55am 18 September 2009

Great! thanks Anne - have added as a link.

Rhodri Thomas
7:33pm 21 September 2009

Hi folks, I think we're due to hear from Andrew Thomas from the Digital Audio Project on Wednesday PM, so will update then.

Anne Jelfs
9:49am 22 September 2009

Just to keep you in the loop, I've been involved in the user testing of DAP and I'm currently evaluating the Digital Audio Project. So happy to talk about it any time.

Dominic Newbould
1:33pm 27 September 2009

If you're still looking for someone to test an eReader - I'm your man.

In the meantime, check out John Naughton's latest prediction in the Observer about the 'holy grail' and early adopters: Microsoft's secret Courier (Tablet) here-

Gráinne Conole
1:38pm 27 September 2009

Thanks for the link Dominic - really interesting article. I can't help feeling we are on the verge of something transformative with these mobile devices. Mind you I am not convinced I will ever entirely give up the pleasure of paper-based books! ;-)

Dominic Newbould
4:11pm 27 September 2009

Reading from a phone screen is good but only in short bursts, I feel.

I currently use a Blackberry Bold, my wife has a Blackberry Storm (which is a hybrid with touchscreen, an imitation of the iPhone). Three of my sons use an iPhone, though goodness knows how they can afford them!

With all these gizmos around, it amazes me that I still spent this Sunday morning surrounded by reams of traditional newspapers...

pamela ryan
4:50pm 27 September 2009

The real advantage of an e-book like Kindle (if only it were user-friendly outside of USA) is when one is travelling.  I am going back to South Africa overloaded with books I just had to have and three of them are hardcovers. If I had a Kindle I would just order them as e-books from Amazon and save myself the hassle of heavy suitcases.

Gráinne Conole
4:53pm 27 September 2009

Yep good point Pam. I am hopeless when I travel, always take too many books and buy too many new ones - so always dangerously close to luggage limit. For the past 6 months have been laiden down with all my spanish books - including this week at the conference! ;-)

Will Pollard
3:58pm 30 October 2009

I have added a couple of links. The Teleread blog is pretty much complete on relevant news.

The TOC conference is influential. Last year the same ideas turned up later at the London Book Fair.

Both Teleread and O'Reilley support the ePUB format, open and based on XML. Amazon has a format all of its own. A bit techy sometimes but worth looking at when the blog seems to be repeating the same position.

Will Pollard
3:56pm 5 November 2009

I have added a link to a YouTube playlist I recently created. Based on recent presentations at the LCC Futures Conference and from the London Book Fair earlier this year. So the problems come first. Suggestions welcome on other video to add to the list.


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