“With devices you can preload content on it, kids check it out for immediate access, and using eBooks definitely engages kids. These are the pros,” he explained. “The cons are how you control and protect the purchasing, for example, large orders and the use of credit cards, and making sure devices go back to the library.”

“With content,” he continued, “the pros are that there’s one large platform and students can access this with their own device. A large platform also provides a commonality across grades, classrooms, and schools. The con is access: if a student doesn’t have a device, how will he or she access these eBooks? Also, not every eBook is always available on just one platform.”

However, Harvey’s district was spared making that decision when it was decided that a one-to-one program would be rolled out to every school; meaning that Harvey’s district decided to focus on content, not device.

“What we knew after that announcement was made was that we’d need to start talking to vendors soon because our adoption cycle was coming for English/Language Arts and then many subjects after that, so I wanted to choose a platform that could cater to all subjects.”

Harvey’s middle school was also going one-to-one the following year, so he made sure they would be on the content plan beforehand. The elementary schools will join this year, as their one-to-one program will be coming soon. Harvey noted that it’s “good to stay ahead as much as possible.”

Things to do first

According to Harvey, who also worked in conjunction with many of his districts’ departments, such as administrative staff and IT, there are 14 things to consider when deciding to implement eBooks:

1. Purpose

2. Devices/Portal

3. Content Decisions

4. Funding (long term/short term)

5. Pricing

6. Ownership of content

7. Formats

8. Number of circulations

9. Number of access at one time

10. Enhancements

11. Instruction

12. Roll out plan

13. Professional Development

14. Publicize it!

“The purpose is crucial,” explained Harvey, “because it’s not just ‘eBooks,’ it’s ‘Is it recreational reading, research and nonfiction materials, or both?” With Common Core implementation, Harvey also noted that more eBook material would probably focus more on nonfiction materials.

(Next page: Choosing the eBook platform and knowing the fine print)