Next, Harvey and his team focused on what platform to use to provide content.
“We realized the content was going to come from a lot of different sources over a long period of time, slowly building a collection every year and keeping in mind from year to year what resonated best with students,” he said.
Ultimately, Harvey’s district chose Axis 360, an eBook platform that caters to many school districts across the country, mainly because the platform allows for both eTextbook and library eBook access, and integrates will with the district’s Destiny library automation software from Follett.
“You also have to think about funding, since many eBook providers have a subscription cost, as well as a startup cost and an annual cost. We have to budget for this, as well as for future additions to the eBook library. And we’re still trying to figure out how to budget for eBooks versus print books,” said Harvey.
Other things to consider, explained Harvey, are publishers, circulation numbers, pricing structures, and owning content.
“For example, HarperCollins only allows 26 of an eBook to be in circulation at one time and then they require another purchase license…It’s also important to think about ‘Who owns the content?’ For instance, if we moved platforms, where would our content go? We had been in talks with one provider for a while but ultimately decided not to go with them because if we switched platforms we’d lose everything. It’s so important to talk with administrators and lawyers and have them read all the fine print,” he noted.
Format considerations include whether the eBooks are content agnostic and can be accessed at multiple times, as well as whether or not the content is interactive.
However, Harvey said one of the biggest considerations was how the eBooks would be used in instruction and what kind of educator professional development would be needed.
“Questions like ‘How do we integrate these texts into the classroom efficiently and seamlessly?’ and ‘What will teachers need to know to make that happen?’ need to be addressed in order for anything to work,” he said.
“Of course, the most important decision is to just jump in!” Harvey concluded. “We could have sat there for a long time debating the pros and cons, but at some point you have to just start something and see what happens. It’s really all about getting those resources into student and teacher hands.”
For more information on eBook implementation:
The eBook community at edweb.net, where you can also watch Harvey’s webinar on this topic, as well as view his recommended resources
School Library Journal on eBooks
A resource for why you should use eBooks in K-6 classroom