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Using eReaders, ePaper and eInk in education

Pedagogical perspectives on how portable eBook Readers and other ePaper devices are being/ could be used in education

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Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
22 September 2009

There are many eBook reader devices such as the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and Hanlin eReader, but there is not enough discussion of their role in teaching and learning. Currently, these devices are expensive and therefore usage is restricted. If the costs come down, are we ready with ideas about how useful they might be?

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Chantal Gorissen at the Open University of the Netherlands has written a short report (dated January 2009) outlining 'educational models' for the use of eBook Readers and ePaper devices in education. Reading from an eReader and from a laptop are compared. The paper argues that eBook Readers are best for recreational reading , whereas ePaper devices allow highlighting, note-making, drawing on the text. So students might want to share highlighted or annotated texts, and teachers could comment directly on students' work and send it back to them. This could be done by downloading/uploading texts between the ePaper device and the online learning environment.

The pdf of the report can be downloaded here: Gorissen, Ch. (2009). Towards an educational model of eReaders in education. Heerlen, The Netherlands: Instellingsbreed Programma Onderwijs.

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
15:52 on 22 September 2009 (Edited 16:40 on 22 September 2009)

Another resource from the Open University of the Netherlands is a paper published in July 2009. It considers the use of E-Ink Readers in distance education. The paper gives lots of information about e-ink readers and creation of content for e-ink readers. They also gave 14 students one device each (Hanlin V3), for free, pre-loaded with some course material, and later evaluated their use of the device, but the pedaogical purpose is not explained. The students mainly read the e-content "at home", suggesting perhaps that mobility was not a priority for most of these students. The 6-inch display was considered fine for reading. Students could not make notes, and most of them would have wanted to. This empirical research seems very limited but the paper gives a good overview of trends and issues. The research was sponsored by the University Council.

The full text pdf may be accessed from the Journal website: Janssens, G. and Martin, H. (2009) The Feasibility of E-Ink Readers in Distance Learning: A Field Study. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM), Vol 3, No 3.

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
16:37 on 22 September 2009 (Edited 16:40 on 22 September 2009)

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Rebecca Galley
2:10pm 22 September 2009

"There's something about print that's a more efficient way of pulling together and preserving text that people can access in a democratic way."

Chris Husbands IoE (in the Guardian article above)

There are two issues here - do we need to 'physically' hold documents in order to make educational sense of them, and will ebooks etc every be truly accessible (if indeed paper books are, which is another issue again)?


Gráinne Conole
3:21pm 22 September 2009

I love books - have a house full of them! But I must admit the interface on my iphone is beginning to change my view about online reading... Having said that if i want to read carefully through something complex or a paper I am writing I still tend to print out.. is this just habit??

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
5:49pm 22 September 2009

I love books too. Books vary in size, shape, smell, colour, texture... which helps me to care about what's inside. E-texts and e-books generally lack such qualities and I cannot enjoy them quite as much. Often this does not matter - the content is just amazing, or good functionality helps you with a particular goal. Or perhaps the environment where you read something is more important than the look and feel of the text. But e-texts need to become more charming before I can regularly fall in love with them! And I think this type of feeling is quite important for education.

Gráinne Conole
8:14pm 22 September 2009

Yes good points Agnes, these aesthetic qualities are surprisingly important. Utility and value may be one thing but motivation and engagement cannot be underestimated. Funnily enough though i probably read newspapers more now in the online environment - I always hated the large, newspaper format and ending up with ink all over your hands. I have el país on my iphone and find I read it on a regular basis....

Liz Mallett
10:48am 23 September 2009

The library pilot group of ebook experimenters have made some interesting observations. So much depends upon what you are studying or reading for instance. A language student  has found it frustrating to not be able to put her fingers in the back of book so she could readily check the answers to exercise questions. To do this with an eReader you have to make multiple bookmarks and keep moving them.

For myself, I have tried the iPod Touch and the Sony. I found the iPod screen just too small for me to read a whole book for instance. But I'm looking forward to seeing the next size they come up with. I really like the aesthetics of the Sony. My only complaint was that if you have it by the bedside table and decide the book you're reading is a bit boring and you'd like to download a different one, you can't do that without switching your computer on and plugging the device in.




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