Sponsored by The Society for Classical Learning and The Alcuin Fellowship
You have probably heard about Apple's unveiling of the iBook2--Apple's format for a digital, multi-media book. Apple is also releasing free authoring software to make these books--which some are calling "Garageband for books" (Garageband is an inexpensive program that makes recording songs quite easy).
The digital revolution in publishing and media seems to be growing an exponential speed. To me (for better or worse), it seems inevitable that the paper book is fading, and fading fast. So some questions:
1. How many of you read some book content digitally (on an iPad, Kindle, other e-reader)?
2. How many of you have students who are reading books on e-readers? How is that working?
3. Can you imagine Kindles or iPads (or other e-readers) being used responsibly and well at a CC school?
4. Do any of you teach at schools that require or give e-readers to students? If so, how is it going?
One more thing. I agree, as Robbie put it above, that we need to responsibly teach our students how to utilize the technology we hand them. At Covenant, we have a technology class, and I invite students to utilize the skills they learn in in class to class projects and presentations. And students can read e-books for silent reading, etc. I just really have a hard time coming up with substantial reasons to switch to e-book for the teaching of great books.
Thanks Katrina, you got my point. I'm not so much arguing for a particular view (yet), as I am saying we need to have a better discussion before we arrive at a particular view. Too many schools create policy in reaction, instead of being proactive.
That being said, I don't think there is any significant difference between a science or math book and a work of philosophy or fiction. In all cases the student who dialogues (perhaps a better word than "interaction") with a text is the real student. Of course, I'm talking about the highest level, the aim of our work: we want to cultivate this kind of attitude about every discipline. But just so, to that end, I do not think we should inadvertently teach our students that science or math is a different kind of thing then is philosophy; that the former you just memorize while the latter you engage.
Also, by way of full disclosure, I and my students are using an ebook right now. Originally I made them purchase a translation of a work that was downright awful. So, I found a better translation that was available on kindle and we all purchased it and began reading (practically in-class). There are only 2 students in the class so it was easy to do. And, so far, our biggest struggle has been finding our places in the text as we discuss the material. But I am being extra vigilant, and using the opportunity to talk about dialoguing with a text.
"Dramatically slamming a book shut upon finishing it was way more satisfying than switching my Kindle off and gently placing it on the table." From Aaron Karo in Reader’s Digest (March 2012, page 101). Being primarily pro-ebook, I had to share this little gem on the opposing side (albeit from a very dubious source).
I had a reply for this, several paragraphs long, and then it disappeared! So the short version is this:
1. I read from my smartphone Kindle. It is convenient and preferable to me to read a book of my choice while waiting for my next event, rather than play games on the device.
2. Many young people I know are using electronic devices. When they are reading books, that is fine, but mostly what I see as a teacher and grandparent, is kids playing games on electronic devices. They think of them as toys, whereas, I think of my computer and smart phone as tools for productive purposes.
3. Some of our public schools are providing iPads to kindergarten children this year. I think this is wrong. Children need to learn how to read, to think and to use their imaginations while young. One of the greatest joys in my life has been to make pictures in my mind from words I see on the printed page. Can children learn to make their own construct on a visual device?
4. I teach at the elementary level in a CC school and also preparing teachers at Indiana University, Kokomo. We do not use electronic devices in the lower elementary, and only a small amount in the middle school. I intend to have more lengthy conversation with my college students about this topic, encouraging them to gather data from their students regarding iPads and learning. Susan Wise Bauer makes a compelling argument for teaching skills in the right order and our "young sponges" need to spend their time in touching, seeing and hearing real life before spending their time with their eyes on a small screen.
Thanks for opening up this topic!