It’s becoming more and more common for students to own an eReader, whether that means a Kindle or other device, with starting prices for eReaders now falling below the £100 mark. However, should ever student own an eReader: what kind of benefits do they provide, and how can they be successfully implemented into the classroom? At the same time, is the future turning more towards multi use tablets with eReading capabilities, rather than single devices, and how can eReaders be made more affordable for students?
In terms of the benefits offered by eReaders to students, some of the most important include portability over paper textbooks, which creates the ability to carry multiple texts in one device. Access to free versions of classic books online through sites like Project Gutenberg also means that students can take advantage of Creative Commons licensing to build up a stronger library of content, complementing what’s available and affordable to them.
Students using eReaders can also boost their comprehension skills through inbuilt dictionaries and reference checkers, with Kindles being particularly useful for showing notes that other readers have made. When used in secondary schools, Kindles are also able to increase the appeal of reading for teenagers, with some 2012 middle school studies demonstrating raised levels of motivation to read. Students with reading difficulties can similarly make use of text to speech features, as well as options for reading on the go through smartphones.
However, it’s perhaps more likely that every student will eventually make use of a tablet, rather than a dedicated eReaders. Cheaper tablets that combine coloured text and images with Internet browsing, music, and word processing make it possible for students to mix eReading with other functions. Tablet sales from 2011 to 2012 increased from 18 to 33 per cent, and demonstrated a greater rise over the same period than single use eReaders with some Internet browsing capabilities.
Tablets could also be more effective at being a one stop solution for classrooms through better visualisation of data, and the option to move more rapidly between videos, word processing, and app use. In this context, tablets are beginning to outstrip laptops as classroom learning aids in the United States, with Apple selling 500,000 Macbooks, and 1 million iPads to schools in 2012.
The line between an entry level Kindle or Nook, and the multi functionality of a high quality tablet is, however, one that will arguably continue to blur over time. In either case, many students will still find themselves priced out of the market for these devices, unless they are provided to schools through block grants. Having a limited number of communal tablets in classrooms is one option, and one that could be more practical than every student owning some form of eReader. This approach would, though, still retain problems over students with personal tablets and eReaders having a potentially unfair advantage over their friends when working at home.
Lisa jane is a secondary school teacher who found her job through the teacher agency based in London, GSL Education. Ernest considers herself a progressive teacher and hopes to see the younger generation being supplied with the tools of tomorrow!