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I've been thinking about eReaders as well. As a lover of books, the actual holding the book in my hands, feeling the pages, enjoying the cover and other illustrations if applicable, I've been hesitant to dive in and purchase an eReader. I know there are so many advantages, but curing up with a good book doesn't sound the same when you say curling up with my eReader.
Another concern I have is how quickly technology changes. Already there are more eReaders out there than last year. How do I decide? Which will fit best now and later?
I love my books, but I really want the flexibility that many eReaders offer. I'm just a little resistant to change at this time--maybe give me a few more months or years to get used to the idea. Or the perfect eReader (for me) is created and I find I can't live without it.
I think you raise a really important point here. If the majority of content were to go digital (and I don't think it will *crossing fingers*) books like the ones you found the living room of the cabin in Maine would be obscured from view. This might take away from the natural exploration of books. I guess (warning: futuristic thinking) if all library and living room shelves were replaced by flat screen monitors which display a cover flow of books you might get an effect close to what you experienced, but I doubt it.
I understand, from a portability standpoint, the appeal of a standalone ebook reader, however, I'm not sure an isolated device suits me. Like you, I desire to mark up text with my annotations. I like the annotation feature available in bookmarking sites like Diigo and use it as often as I can. I recently checked out a book (from the public library) on Play for an upcoming conference session and I'm frustrated because I can't mark it up. I'm likely going to go out and purchase the very same book so that I can do so.
Now for the confusing part. I do wish I had this particular book in electronic format. I'd like to highlight, copy text, and make notations on what I'm reading, questions generated and ideas for the presentation at the upcoming conference.
Of course the subject of ebook readers arose at the NYS Model Schools meetings last week. In one small discussion with a colleague from CA BOCES he mentioned that he had tried to persuade a district leader from purchasing a $200+ ebook reader and to think about the purchase of netbooks. The rationale for doing so was that the majority of ebook formats can be read on a laptop. More importantly a laptop/netbook allows for a multitude of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflective things students can and should experience throughout their education.
Of course, that implies that books aren't so obscured and they don't get distracted. :)
There is definitely a lot to be said about the printing industry in Rochester. Up until my friend took a job at one of the print shops locally did I even realize that this industry existed. I often wonder if I was just that oblivious when I was younger, or if no one ever mentioned that there was this opportunity in our area. The contest that is being held by RIT is a fantastic opportunity for students to place their work on display outside of their school community. I do, in someways, think that we often sell ourselves short by only focusing on High school students in these type of competitions. I have a feeling I know the underlying reason why, but I also think that creating opportunities for middle and elementary students is important as well.
The opportunity to have students engaged in the process of creating a print document can really allow them to explore the concepts of design. Design is often something that I think isn't addressed as part of our curriculum. There is a lot to be said for how beautiful, or shocking, something is to our senses. This can be seen in so many instances in our own world, but do our students experience similar audiences, or is production for a singular client alone?
I really think that the quote:
It is hard to convey with a few sentences, the power that creating an authentic product has over the writing process and attitudes of students, but the looks on their faces and the pride in their voices speak volumes.
speaks to how projects can create true senses of ownership. Student projects are a powerful way for students to showcase their ideas and talents. Collaborative projects can also help student really build on one another's talents. The opportunity for out students to become involved in projects with our local colleges may also start to keep the talented minds we have in the area from moving to other areas of the world.
I hope that we see a local winner to this contest.
Judy, thanks for the heads up on this.
Those are wonderful videos, and I agree wholeheartedly with the content of the messages. However, my students would say that teachers are just too pressured to "perform", to meet standards, to cover content, to raise test scores...
What I have noticed as a huge problem here is that there is the perception that technology is something extra that teachers are expected to "do" on top of everything else. There is often a poor understanding of how technology can and should support the very goals of understanding content, meeting standards, increasing student performance, extending the capabilities of the mind, problem-solving, creative ideas and solutions,.... Teachers are ill-prepared to see technology as a creative and powerful means to improve what they are already doing, and in some cases, change how they have done things in the past. Until we bring vision, creativity, and innovation back into administration, policy, curriculum, and yes... teacher preparation, I don't think we'll see widespread creative innovation trickle down to where it needs to be... in the classroom.
Seth Godin, one of our great modern thinkers
Wow... you have hit the wall and dare to enter the nebulous black hole of teacher change, growth, and powerful uses of tools. Volumes have been written on these topics, but too often we ignore them or look for easier "solutions". There have been a number of stages of levels of technology adoption that have been proposed which I think would somewhat address what you see out there. (see http://education.ed.pacificu.edu/bcis/workshop/adoption.html, for example)
There is the "Diffusion of Innovations" model, the "Concerns-based Adoption Model" [CBAM], the "Individual Innovativeness Theory", and the "Level of Technology Implementation" [LoTI] framework, and more. They all suggest that teachers need systematic support (mentoring, coaching,...) to help them move along a normal continuum of non-use to powerful uses of teaching and learning tools. In reality, we don't do this well at all in any discipline. We tend to plan around one-hour "in-services" that do little at moving teachers along an effective growth continuum.
And to attempt to answer your final question, I think there are always some folks out there with a burning passion to learn more and to be better, regardless of the structures out there to support them and the obstacles in their path. For others, there are just too many obstacles across many domains that seem to get in the way. Administrators must make every effort to remove those obstacles within their own control and facilitate effective teacher-growth structures and processes in their own buildings. And, of course, lead by example.
This is no small order to accomplish by any means. It's huge. But too often we go about the daily business of "doing school" while ignoring some very critical components that make doing school a powerful, meaningful, and relevant experience for all involved.
One of my pet peeves is that more often than not, educators will adopt something new in their classroom and use it for very surface level experiences. For example, let's say an educator starts a class blog. She posts a few prompts and leads students in the process of commenting. Students comment out of a requirement, not out of an organic interest in what's being discussed. To boot, the blog (insert other tool here) is not an integral part of the learning environment/community of the class or course of study.
Because of such an example, I'm concerned with the lack of learning by educators and the pressures from districts that deny educators the time to do so. What is it that those with "good stuff" have that most others don't?
I think we have all been guilty of letting the "geek effect" dictate a little too much the level and quality of student thinking. I think this is partly due to the notion that using tools is so much easier than orchestrating powerful teaching and learning opportunities. Also, for those teachers who are new to these tools, they are often excited about their own newfound technology prowess and get distracted from keeping "good stuff" in focus. Finally, there is also the issue that too often there is a lack of "good stuff". Period. Adding new tools into a mix that was lacking "good stuff" to begin with will not transform poor or mediocre "stuff".
Excellent teaching certainly is rocket science!
So here are a few of the Topics of the Year that came up during the meeting. Is there one or two that we might focus on?
If you have any thoughts or ideas on which topics to look at please let use know. We are always looking for your input.
Stephen, thanks for sharing... added and subscribed to... be glad to hear more from you in the future...
Brian C. Smith