Saturday, April 12, 2014

Paper Books vs. eBooks? Research prompts more questions...

Today's headline: "Students Reading E-Books Are Losing Out, Study Suggests" from this NYTimes article by Annie Murphy Paul, begins with the question "Could e-books actually get in the way of reading?"

One item to consider in evaluating the research presented by Schugar and Schugar at last week's American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Annual Meeting, is the definition of "e-Books." Access to digital text and e-Readers is quite varied across computing devices. For instance, some eBooks are actually "apps" — dedicated stories that often contain multi-media components, and are not viewed using an eReading device or dedicated eReader application.

Is it too soon to make judgement on the value of digital text over paper-based books? Based on the comments posted to the author in this article, I have more questions than answers — perhaps you will too.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Customized: Build Curriculum for any Mobile Device

Build curriculum for any mobile device, with a free online eBuilder from Digital Wish!

If you can drag-and-drop, you can build an eBook. In this Sept. 4, 2013 webinar hosted by the NMC Horizon Project, Digital Wish's Executive Director, Heather Chirtea demonstrates how to build digital eTextbooks, activities, and lesson plans with very simple drag-and-drop skills through a computer's browser. Digital content can be saved as an app that can be downloaded to any smartphone, tablet, Apple or Android device.

Teachers can sign up for a free eBuilder account at Completed eBooks are hosted on a "Marketplace" channel within the eBuilder account.

Connected! Readmill redefines eBooks as Social Networks

The Future of Media Lab recently reviewed Readmill, an eReader app released late last year for both iOS and Android:
Readmill makes each and every book its own self-contained social network, allowing readers to discuss, share and review from inside of the e-book. If you find a passage you like, you can highlight it and comment on it right from within the book. Other users reading the book and even the author can see these comments and add their own thoughts, starting a discussion within the book, without ever having to leave it.
According to the website, however, it's noted that discussions are not limited to the app:
Highlight and comment on passages as you read, and share them with friends and followers. Every highlight can be viewed on the web (at, making it easy to start a discussion with other people, even if they are not using Readmill. 
Readmill supports ebook formats ePub, PDF and Adobe DRM, and books from stores such as Kobo and Feedbooks can be bought and brought into Readmill. The website will allow you to manage your library and store all of your books in the cloud for free. Readers are invited to join their community of readers and authors, and Readmill will periodically send emails recommending "books of interest," based on what is on your reading shelf.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Connected! "Reading with Others" using Subtext

I am happy to announce that we have arrived in the future -- and it is amazing!

"I want to be able to share my thoughts with my students, my friends, and my colleagues, and to hear their thoughts and ideas. Books of the future will be connected: connected to other books, connected to other users -- to see what others are highlighting, to see their notes -- in essence, reading with others." These words (from the "Books of the Future" video created at the 2010 Apple Distinguished Educators Summer Institute) expressed our dream, as educators, for what we described as books of the future.

During that summer of 2010, when we were dreaming about the future of digital text, the iPad was only a few months old. We were excited about the personalization the iPad offers readers using the iBooks app: changing font size and type, adjusting the background color, dynamically looking up dictionary definitions, text to speech, and the ability to create digital highlights and notes. E-mail provided the ability to share notes from the book, however, we dreamed of the possibility of reading becoming a social experience. Little did we know, that others had a similar dream.

Subtext logo
Our vision of a connected book has arrived -- it's name is Subtext!
Subtext is a free iPad app that allows classroom groups to exchange ideas in the pages of digital texts. Teachers use our tools to layer enrichment materials, lesson plans and assessments into the pages of texts; while students build a reading history and body of content with lifelong benefits. Subtext’s service extends the reading experience far beyond traditional books and aligns with the Common Core Standards across reading, writing and 21st century digital skills.
Teachers can access their Subtext accounts using a web browser, however, at this time, only to create and share digital assignments. And, although Subtext is an iPad only app, access from other devices and web browser Subtext reading, is under development.

Here's what teachers are saying about Subtext:

Watch the following video from the 2013 Summer PD series to learn how Subtext is being used by teachers in a variety of grade levels and subjects:


Getting Started with Subtext:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Is it time to break the Textbook habit?

From Education Week:
"Maybe now is the time to break the dependency on textbooks.

Breaking the Habit
There are numerous reasons why many schools believe it's time to break the textbook habit. Most schools have a variety of ways to meet the needs of students and those typically revolve around the use of technology. It's time for teachers to be treated like professionals again, and an over-reliance on textbooks makes the book the expert and not the teacher. If used at all anymore, the textbook should be a base and not be the driver behind the conversation or the information."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Customized: More than just a textbook

From USA Today,
Due to the control that college textbook publishers have on the industry, there has been a recent push for open-source material in what Slate called the open educational resources (OER) movement. Heading the pack for OER is Boundless, a start-up company that uses open-source (free) information to rebuild textbooks for students. The digitized copies of the textbooks are then available for students to use on their tablets or laptops.
(Read the full story here)

From the website:
Beyond a textbook. Way beyond. 
Textbooks haven't changed in centuries, except for their price. Boundless textbooks offer innovative features that help you make the most of your study time. For free.
  • SmartNotes: Your full book, condensed to just the essential key points, key terms, and examples.
  • Interactive Notebook: Highlight important terms and add notes to key concepts. View all your notes and highlights in an easily sortable notebook that you can organize by time or book chapter.
  • Flashcards and Quizzes: Study key terms and more with flashcards, then quiz yourself to see how much you know
  • Study Guides: Boundless lets you condense all your notes and highlights, view and edit on any device, and share as a PDF with your friends, classmates, or study groups.
  • Instant Search: Chapters, key term definitions, and anything else at your fingertips. Fast and intuitive navigation so you can spend more time studying and less time searching.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

College Students Boost Digital Adoption

Connected: According to this Coursesmart survey, the average college student uses 3 devices daily, although the majority (51%) report bringing a laptop rather than a print textbook.

Reposted from Coursesmart (

-- Research Shows That Majority of Students Are More Likely To Bring a Laptop Than a Print Textbook to Class with 53% Of Device Owners Reading eTextbooks Frequently -- 
SAN MATEO, Calif., May 23, 2012 –CourseSmart®, the world's largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, today announced the results of a survey revealing college students' growing reliance on technology. The survey of more than 500 currently enrolled college students found that nearly all college students (98%) who own a device have used it for school and a majority of these students (53%) read eTextbooks frequently. Further, 90% of college students say they save time studying with technology -- including mobile devices, digital textbooks, eReaders and tablets. 
Fielded by Wakefield Research, an independent research consultancy, the survey revealed that technology has become a significant part of students' everyday lives with the average using three devices daily. A majority (67%) can't go more than one hour without using some sort of digital technology, with 40% not lasting more than 10 minutes. "The survey underscores the undeniable influence technology has on today's college experience. As technology continues to evolve and digital devices become integral to the evolution of higher education, it's encouraging to see the positive impact on learning outcomes as students utilize advanced devices and digital course materials to streamline and improve their learning environment," said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart. 
The Digital Backpack 
Once the backpack staple, print textbooks are losing their reputation of being indispensable. Only 5% of students say textbooks are the most important item in their bag and a majority of students say they are more likely to bring a laptop (51%) than a print textbook (39%) to class. Digital devices also allow for on-the-go reference to information with 79% of college students reporting they have done a quick search on a mobile device or tablet to verify something right before a test or a quiz.
According to the survey, technology is also streamlining students' studies. The study found that 68% of college students who save time using technology report saving two hours or more each day and nearly one in six students (14%) saving five hours or more. Further, nearly 3 in 5 students (58%) report that they frequently are unable to complete required reading in time for class and of those, a majority (51%) said they would be more likely to do so if they had digital textbooks that could be accessed on a mobile device, eReader, laptop or tablet.