Posts Tagged ‘ebook readers’
The British Library and Amazon have recently announced a new agreement to make 65,000 of their 19th Century literature titles available free-of-charge through the Amazon Kindle Store. I see this partnership as a big step towards the Kindle becoming the eReader of choice within the UK. Have a look at the press release at:
Recently we’ve also seen the release of the Kindle app for iPhone and iPod Touch and also the Kindle software for PCs. Take a look at:
For the CoFHE NW AGM we focussed on assessing learners needs and how libraries can resource their learning styles. Based on scenarios, the attendees discussed the current challenges faced by libraries in meeting evolving students needs and then moved on to discuss how technology could potentially help. Over the next few blog entries I will focus on each scenario and the comments received during the session.
With four children, Finbar has to fit his course into an already complex lifestyle. Finbar has advanced his ICT skills as a result of his course by creating web pages, learning programming languages and keeping a blog. He studies in the library, but also after hours at work and on his computer at home. He gets very frustrated if he can’t find what he needs straight away.
Technology gives Finbar more flexibility, but the timeliness of information is also important. Finbar suggests that a central repository of information, approved by the college, would help learners locate online resources more efficiently, citing Wikipedia as an example of such a repository.
Finbar is an interesting challenge for library services. Access to the resources most appropriate to him as quickly as possible are what is required here. Libraries need to ensure that offsite provision meets the needs of this type of learner. The potential for pre-loading eBook readers and iPod Touches with appropriate resources must be utilised – again in a similar manner to previous scenarios. In addition a re-vamp of the libary Virtual Learning Environment may be required to comply with the “three click rule” (the user should access what they require within three clicks).
Personally I would use this scenario to test out the current library services. Put yourselves in Finbar’s shoes and see how far you get and how long it takes you. You may be surprised!
For this weeks CoFHE NW AGM we focussed on assessing learners needs and how libraries can resource their learning styles. Based on scenarios, the attendees discussed the current challenges faced by libraries in meeting evolving students needs and then moved on to discuss how technology could potentially help. Over the next few blog entries I will focus on each scenario and the comments received during the session.
Laura is an experienced digital learner – she attends college part time and continues her studies at home.
Laura accesses course resources and information by logging onto the college’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) from her personal computer in her bedroom, but also travels into college for classes and meetings with other students.
Whilst travelling she learns through listening to podcasts and enjoys watching videos on her iPod touch. She rarely visits the library because she feels that there are no resources available there for her.
The greatest challenge with Laura was felt to be how to attract her into the library. With a learner of this type there is a need to invest in appropriate technology and digital resources to suit her needs. In addition there is work required to promote the library and associated services; particularly focussed on digital resources.
It was commented that most libraries don’t, at present, offer podcasts. Maybe there is scope here to utilise podcasts for marketing? These could be used in association with social sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Libraries need to think further about their marketing strategies once they are confident that the resources and services they are offering provide something for every learner.
The library could also store podcasts from college lecturers and distribute to learners through mobile technologies or via the VLE. This could be the start of a college audio library…
In a similar vein to Hannah (the previous scenario), providing digital resources on SD cards may be suitable so that she can utilise them on her own equipment.
Libraries need to invest in technology and digital resources such as eReaders, eBooks and visual resources to resource the digital learner.
For my presentation at this years CoFHE NW AGM I asked all attendees to focus on assessing learners needs and how libraries can resource their differing learning styles. Based on scenarios, the attendees discussed the current challenges faced by libraries in meeting evolving students needs and then moved on to discuss how technology could potentially help. Over the next few blog entries I will focus on each scenario and the comments received during the session.
Hannah is a very sociable person and tends to enjoy working with others or in a team. She spends a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter discussing coursework with her friends. She seems to always be on her mobile phone.
She finds studying in quiet environments extremely difficult and prefers to be “in the thick of it”.
In the main she uses study materials recommended to her either by her tutor or her friends.
Creating a dedicated space for learners to work in a group can prove difficult in a lot of college libraries due to the overall size available. Some colleagues commented that there was discussion space available elsewhere in the college that could be utilised for these purposes. Maybe libraries need to start utilising the space elsewhere within the college and not become physically restricted to the four walls provided by the current library?
There is definitely an opportunity here for the libraries to exploit the use of mobile technologies. There are already a lot of libraries sending out overdues from their library catalogue via SMS but what else can they do? The suggestions included: creating a library of SD cards preloaded with appropriate material which could be loaned to students for use on their mobile devices (or indeed devices such as PSPs and iPod Touches loaned from the library), and the utilisation of bluetooth technology for sending material directly to the learner’s phone. The interest in multi card readers was high and, where they are in use, provide extremely good value for money.
I would add to these comments that libraries really do now need to exploit mobile devices. We are now starting to see universities creating their own apps for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch which brings not just the library catalogue to the learners mobile but also online resources and Virtual Learning Environments.
I was surprised from the scenario that Twitter and Facebook were not mentioned as providing value to library services. So many college and public libraries are now utilising these sites to reach their learners and promote the materials and services they have available. They are also ideal for keeping librarians up-to-date with developments and in touch with their colleagues.
Well, the greatly anticipated Apple announcement this week produced “The iPad” and, to be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet. One post I’ve read has referred to it as the “LP for the 21st century” because of it’s size being “reminiscent of old vinyl albums” (yes, I do remember them!) but concludes what I suspect that it may not provide an awful lot more than the iPod Touch other than the benefits brought about by it’s size.
For example, the iPad launches with a new bookstore – the iBook Store which a number of publishers have already signed up to. However, although the iPad does seems to be a good size for reading and should be very clear to read, the device doesn’t have the e-ink technology that’s easy on the eye and long battery life provided by the dedicated eReaders. How much use will it then be as an eReader if it’s physically and technically not possible to read your eBooks for long periods? In addition, Bookseller.com report that the iBook store is not available in the UK and suggest that it may not be so for some time. http://www.thebookseller.com/news/111019-uk-access-to-ibook-store-.html.rss
One thing that does frustrate me about the current iPod Touch is the size of the screen which limits the keyboard and browser size. Obviously this is inevitable for a portable device so I rather liked the claim that the keyboard size on the iPad is not far from the size of an actual keyboard and the size of the screen seems to display web pages very well. How well this works in practice… well I’ll have to wait until I manage to get hold of one. I really can’t see me carrying an iPad round in my coat pocket though
I must admit that I was sold on the comments about the screen and that it can be seen clearly from multiple angles due to the technology used. This should make the possibility of using iPads for groupwork in small numbers a possibility. Due to the multi-touch technology it could potentially be used by a couple of group members at one time (mindmapping, diagramming etc…) whilst the rest of the group could view what was happening. Such potential – but presumably only for about 3 or 4 people.
From a library perspective, I do think we need to keep an eye on this one because it does have potential which could be further realised when the Wi-Fi and 3G models become available in the UK. Watch this space.
I wonder if the next development from Apple is a jumbo iPod touch…
Back in July,the American Library Journal reported that Arizona State University was being sued over their use of the Kindle eReader and the problems encountered by blind students with using the menus on the Kindle. They, along with other US Universities, were piloting their use for distributing eTextbooks to students, but because the menus on most eReaders are not accessible to blind users this was seen as inequality. I blogged about this at the time. http://chrissiet.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/arizona-state-university-being-sued-over-use-of-kindle-ebook-reader/
The case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) has now concluded and the universities that were using the eReaders have been instructed not to use the eReaders until they are usable by everyone. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6716860.html?nid=2673&source=title&rid=17250935 This seems like a big decision to make and could affect how much eReaders are used and adopted in education – particularly with this week’s launch of the Apple iPad (which I’ll blog about soon) which has potential to take over from the Kindle as the most popular “eReader” available.
I am not aware of any eReader yet that is totally accessible (forgive me if I’m wrong) – many have taken steps to include audio that reads the book to you, but if a visually impaired user can’t get to the speech option then it’s not much use. Personally I believe that eReaders do have a place in education, but it all comes down to personal choice. If a learner finds the eReaders useful and beneficial to their studies, then why not use them - but let’s not yet make them the default media quite yet…
eReaders are evolving into something that looks really exciting. Take a look at this article from the New York Times that my colleague Lisa Valentine sent me:
The enTourage eDGe looks stunning and should really move eReader technology on in leaps and bounds. There’s a demo on the enTourage website: http://www.entourageedge.com/
It’s not even out yet in the USA and is still pretty expensive, but it shows great promise – particularly for text books. Imagine reading about a subject such as blood circulation on the eReader screen and seeing the animation on the LCD screen alongside it!
At the UKSG E-Resources for FE Seminar I gave a presentation looking at whether libraries and learning resource centres are providing learner centred environments.
My aim for the presentation was to get you all thinking. Over the last few months I’ve been talking to Librarians putting forward observations and reflections, on how libraries could respond to the evolving needs of learners and their learning styles, to prompt discussion and elicit feedback.
It’s been an interesting few months of changing ideas and perceptions resulting in the presentation below. Are we providing Learner Centred Environments? How can a library be “physical” as well as “virtual”? How can we exploit online platforms? How do Learning Styles influence library services?
The presentation showcases innovative ideas, new technology and useful websites, and provides some suggestions to challenge your thinking and influence your future planning.
Handout on Learning Styles (MS Word 2007)
Amazon is making it’s massively hyped eReader “Kindle” available to the UK from October 19 to very mixed reviews. Take a look at the comments on the Guardian website for example:
This isn’t a UK release per se (we’ll have to wait longer for that), but Amazon.com making the Kindle available for export outside the US. Although they have made some changes (if you buy the right Kindle from the choice of three, the wireless will now connect to 3G networks outside the US using AT&T roaming), there is still quite a lot that’s American about it. The built in dictionary is “The New Oxford American Dictionary”, the Kindle Store prices all it’s books in dollars and the content available from the store is currently predominantly American but is starting to include more UK content with the inclusion of The Times, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Jeff Bezos, Amazon boss (as The Guardian puts it), has promised a UK version of Kindle in the future which will be available from Amazon UK accompanied by a UK Kindle store with prices in sterling.
Be careful – UK use of the current Kindle can be costly. The price on the screen is not necessarily the price that you pay (although Amazon do promise that there will be no customs duties or other fees). The Kindle itself will be more expensive than is initially stated due to the addition of VAT – which Amazon only estimate upon checkout. It’s also possible that the Royal Mail will charge you administration costs for importing.
You can upload documents to the Kindle directly using USB, but if you want to email them to the Kindle there is a charge of “$.99 per megabyte”. In addition the books are more expensive to download in the UK with the inclusion of a download charge of $1.99 per item.
Personally all I want is an eReader that will show every format of electronic document I have (in the main MS Office and PDFs – I haven’t make the foray into purchasing an ePUB format book yet) whilst being really easy to use. It would “make my day” if the eReader would also go online and allow me to easily search the JISC eBook collections as well. EVEN BETTER (OK, I’m pushing it a bit here) would be a way of cataloguing all the books that I have access to – uploaded and online – into a fully searchable index. I can dream
From the Sunday Times’ review, it looks like Kindle has the potential to fulfill my dreams and also provide for those dreams I never knew I had!! (An eReader that reads the eBook to you – how useful is that!), but this release is limited for UK users. The web browser doesn’t work in the UK (my dreams have now gone up in smoke) and neither does the ability to follow blogs. I think I have a little while to wait before the Kindle will make my dreams come true.
So, when is the official UK launch?…
Well, I’m disappointed. I’ve tried the JISC eBook for FE collection on the Nintendo DSi, and confirmed what my colleague Angela from Bury College mentioned to me that they are not viewable.
Out of the box the DSi doesn’t come with the browser. To get the browser you firstly need to use the built in wireless facility to connect to a wireless network. This can be a bit fiddly if you use security on the network which uses anything other than a WEP key. However, I was impressed that it did have space to put in proxy details as well as a WPA key on the advanced setup, so there’s a possibility it should connect to the interest through whatever wireless connection you have. Once connected, the browser is then a free download from the DSi shop.
My suspicions that not being able to view the books in the JISC collection could be a problem with Opera (as the DSi browser is based on Opera) are unfounded as the site works with no problems in the Opera browser on my laptop – so it is very possibly something else. What happens is that when you want to view a book using the DSi browser through the ebrary Quickview, you are presented with a blank screen accompanied by all the menus. It could get very confusing to users because it doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong and what you see could be misinterpreted as the interface making it impossible to view any of the listed books. Everything else seems to be working as it should – even the Shibboleth authentication! Very disappointing. It would have been a lovely little eBook reader for all libraries if this would have worked. I’m going to contact Anna at JISC Collections to see what she says.
In the meantime I did manage to have a look at the Classic eBook Collection which is available to buy from Amazon and all good video game stockists (I sound like an advert!) and could be distributed in all libraries. I really liked it. Take a look at the picture on the left of our DSi showing Jane Eyre. You can read the full book, or find out about the book and/or the author. The Classic eBook Collection has 100 complete fictional books classic books (with a possible 10 more that can be downloaded) from authors such as Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare it’s possible that there are quite a few titles from the English Literature curricula on here. It’s definitely worth a look. Anyone wanting to have a look at the DSi and the collection, just drop me a line and I’ll bring it along next time I see you.
The only downside with the Classic eBook Collection I could spot was with the capability of downloading additional books. This game only has support for WEP secured wireless connections as this was the only capability that the DSi’s predecessor had (for which this “game” is designed). Therefore if you have a WPA connection, or a connection that requires proxy settings, you will probably not be able to access the additional books – that is until you find someone with a WEP secured wireless connection
I’ll keep you all updated on what Anna says and whether viewing the JISC eBook collection on a DSi will ever be possible.