Readers: Digital textbook implementation just a dream

“The digital divide will grow even larger without the financial support necessary to make this move a reality,” said one reader.

From calls to action from major education organizations, all the way to a mission set forth by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the higher-ups in education are saying it’s time to go all digital with textbooks.

But at the district, school, and classroom levels, is going all digital—which promises larger returns on investment and more interactive and personalized learning—as simple as it seems? And does going digital really put less strain on teachers and students?

According to readers, though digital textbooks sound good in theory, not all students would have access to these materials from home as well as school. Also, many schools just don’t have the funding, or infrastructure, needed to support these efforts.…Read More

California governor signs bills to make textbooks lighter on wallets and backpacks

The younger generations may one day never need to lug around heavy and expensive textbooks for their classes, Tecca reports. California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills yesterday that will fund the creation of 50 open source digital textbooks and will launch the California Open Source Digital Library to host them. The law could help bring down the ballooning expenses of college for students and their families. The 50 titles will be selected by the California Open Education Resources Council. The group will pick the textbooks from public, post-secondary classes, then collect bids for the creation of those materials as digital books in 2013…

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Barnes & Noble to launch video service for Nook

Barnes & Noble Inc said on Tuesday it was launching a video streaming and download service this autumn for its Nook eBooks and device business, Reuters reports. Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, said its Nook Video service will allow shoppers to buy movies and television shows from HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc; Viacom Inc; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios. Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet and e-reader devices have found favor with shoppers, allowing the bookseller to win as much as 30 percent of the eBooks market, according to its own estimates. But the company faces intense competition from Amazon.com Inc, which already offers the Prime Instant Video service and makes the Kindle Fire tablet…

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SETDA urges shift to digital instruction

The report acknowledges that policy changes regarding instructional materials are not enough to ensure that digital content is used in classrooms effectively.

Everyone remembers lugging a 20-pound textbook. But should today’s students still have to consult hefty—and often outdated—printed texts? And should states and districts still pay for resources that few students now find relevant?

A new report says “no”—and it urges states and districts to stop delaying the inevitable shift from print to digital instruction. It also provides examples of how some states are making this shift and overcoming the hurdles this involves.

The report, “Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age,” is produced by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.…Read More

HarperCollins reaches deal to lower eBook prices

A new and uncertain era of e-book prices has begun, the Associated Press reports. HarperCollins Publishers announced Tuesday that it has reached new price agreements with sellers that conform to a settlement with the Justice Department over allegations that five publishers and Apple colluded to set prices for eBooks. Such new works as Michael Chabon’s “Telegraph Avenue” now can be purchased on Amazon.com for $9.99, a price publishers and rival booksellers fear will give Amazon dominant control of the eMarket. Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group also settled, but as of Tuesday afternoon e-prices for such fall books from those publishers as Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics” and Tom Wolfe’s “Back to Blood” were selling for $14.99. A spokesman for Simon & Schuster declined comment, while Hachette issued a statement saying it was “engaged in productive discussions with eBook distribution agents.” Apple and two other publishers, Penguin Group (USA) and Macmillan, declined to settle and a trial is expected next June…

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Will the new Kindles change the game for tablets in education?

The pundits have spoken. Amazon hit a homerun with its new Kindles. 8.9″ is just right. Performance is going to rock. Exchange support is top notch. And the pricing? It’s a game-changer, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. I’ve already had people asking me what I think of it for education. A fast, cheap tablet with easy access to more books than students can ever read, including a growing selection of electronic textbooks seems like a no-brainer, right? I wish. Unfortunately, Amazon’s ecosystem (or lack thereof) outside the land of Amazon is going to get in the way. In fairness, Amazon is getting closer, particularly in higher ed because the 8.9″ Fire HD really is an awesome form factor to toss into a backpack or carry anywhere and Amazon has quite a large selection of college textbooks ported to the Kindle. Amazon also has a growing number of Kindle textbooks for rent and your notes are retained even after the rental period expires. Of course, if your instructor picks a textbook that Amazon doesn’t carry, most likely, you’re out of luck. There’s no Android Play Store, after all, from which to download alternative textbook apps…

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Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD family: The highs and lows you need to know

There’s no doubt that Amazon’s original Kindle Fire tablet was a huge hit. It earned over 10,000 5-star customer reviews, it remained the number-one best-selling product on Amazon since its introduction, and it captured 22 percent of U.S. tablet sales in nine months, says ZDNet. Amazon hopes to duplicate the success it has with original Kindle Fire with its family of Kindle Fire HD tablets. There’s certainly a lot of high-end technology packed into every Kindle Fire HD tablet. First, there are new displays. The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD comes with a 1920×1200 1080p HD display with in-plane switching, Advanced True Wide polarizing filter, and featuring a 1280×800 720p display. 254 pixels per inch that Amazon says are “indistinguishable to the human eye” — in other words: it’s a retina display…

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Graphic novels, eBooks on students’ summer reading list

The Manga comics, which are read back-to-front, are very popular with students.

Tom Miley, a media specialist for Baltimore County Public Schools, relayed something of an odd desire to a group of summer school reading students at Ridgely Middle School in Lutherville, Md., on July 25.

“My goal in two or three years is to be out of a job in the summers, because there are no more reading students in summer school,” he told one class.

And to accomplish that, Miley has spent the last couple of weeks introducing the nearly 1,600 summer school reading students at the county’s five summer school locations about alternative ways to pique their interest in reading — including graphic novels and eBooks.…Read More

Study released on library eBook borrowing

eBook readers have been relatively slow to borrow digital works from the library, frustrated by a limited selection and by not even knowing if their local branch offers e-releases, according to a new study, the Associated Press reports. The Pew Research Center published a survey Friday that reports around 12 percent of eBook users 16 years and older downloaded a text from the library over the past year. Earlier in 2012, Pew issued a study showing that around 20 percent of adults had read an eBook recently. Simon & Schuster, the Hachette Book Group and other major publishers have limited eBook offerings to libraries or refused to make any available, citing concerns that the ease of free downloads would hurt sales. Lack of awareness may be another factor. Around 60 percent of those 16 and older couldn’t say whether their libraries had eBooks. Pew’s Internet & American Life Project study, conducted with nearly 3,000 respondents between Nov. 16 and Dec. 11, 2011, suggests that library patrons trying to borrow digital texts have been deterred by the selection and by not having the right eBook device…

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