Saturday, February 27, 2016

Technological miracle called “books” continue to take hold.

The death of paper has been greatly exaggerated.  Take a look at new growth in used book stores, continued success in paper book markets, and the statistics that e-reader sales have seriously plateaued, and the indication that society is still in love with the physical printed word is alive and well. 

And schools seem to be behind the times.  There is an interesting technological revolution going on within Ukiah Unified right now and the initial results have been fairly interesting.  I won’t get into the nuts and bolts at this point because much of it is rumor and all of it is brand new.  One thing that has been broached in a smaller way is the substitution of textbooks with e-readers. 

What say you Interwebz?

In a new study conducted by American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron, researchers have found that an overwhelming majority of students prefer physical books — you know, with covers and paper — over e-books for serious reading.

These are this generations massive readers; college students.  They overwhelmingly want the physical books in their hands than an e-reader, even when the book has a digital copy at no financial cost.  And this isn’t just a college going phenomenon.  It looks like the teenagers are still into reading and that social media simply creates buzz for the purchase of the paper books. 

What’s most important to the student angle is the apparent lack of engagement that students find in an e-reader.  When presented with the opportunity to recall information, studies show that digital devices had a negative impact on the overall absorption and engagement within that information

  "the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does"

The statement could be seen by some as old fashioned or obsolete until you start sifting through data and realizing that, just as many teachers have said, the technology is only a tool and occasionally that tool is used improperly. 

I also buzzed around an AP U.S. Government forum where the question of e-readers as textbooks was put in front of a group.  A vast majority of teachers did not like their digital experience.  They found that either the students didn’t read as well or as often with the Kindle style books, or that the digital copies were poorly executed on Kindles and laptops.  This created a mess on Kindles because students had trouble going back to charts and graphs on previous pages, and laptop infographics ended up clunky and often distracting to the reader.  A couple of teachers noted that textbook companies like Pearson were also doing a masterful job locking schools into digital books as well.

The most dangerous part of integrating technology into schools is the act of simply integrating it into schools because it is technology.  It’s pretty and powerful and makes board members and administrators look like they are savy in the ways of current pedagogy.  That’s the wrong way to look at technology.  Technology is not pedagogy.  Technology is the tool and the teacher needs a lot more say about how that tool is most successfully used in the classroom.  Sweeping changes without consulting teachers can have disastrous and incredibly expensive consequences. 

While thinking about this, please view IKEA’s reminder to all of us about one of the greatest technological advances in human history….the Book.

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