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The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2008.

  • Lulu.  Lulu provides tools to publish, print, and design original content.  Educators and students have the ability to publish content (e.g., reports, books, or posters) with nominal expense (EDUCAUSE, 2008a).
  • Flickr.  Anyone can upload, view, mark, or tag pictures on this photo-sharing website.  Flickr embodies many elements of Web 2.0 applications and relies on user content to promote community among consumers.  Users have the ability to provide a setting for developing relationships or shared events, and in order to help enhance relationships, groups can be formed (EDUCAUSE, 2008b).
  • Google apps.  This online suite of file storage and web-based programs operates within a web browser.  In Google Apps, individuals can share content by granting someone permission to view that content.  The ability to easily share content promotes peer review of material and collaboration.  The programs featured on Google Apps include productivity tools (e.g., word processor or spreadsheet), communication tools, (e.g., calendar or Google Talk) and web development tools (EDUCAUSE, 2008c).
  • Ning.  This online social networking application allows consumers to generate their own network or take part in another individual’s network.  Each creator is given the opportunity to completely personalize the functionality and appearance of the SNS.  This technology is similar to Facebook with the exception that users can create their own closed network.  Ning provides a neutral setting where teachers can harness the power of social networks, such as the promotion of a strong sense of community among a cohort of students (EDUCAUSE, 2008d).
  • Multi-touch interfaces.  These input devices distinguish various touches on the surface of the screen such as pinches, rotations, swipes, and other actions that facilitate instantaneous interface with digital content.  Multi-touch interfaces also allow several users to simultaneously collaborate with digital content (EDUCAUSE, 2008e).
  • Second Life.  Second Life is a modern day virtual world hosting over 13 million “residents,” a flourishing economy and a great deal of virtual land.  Consumers can create or alter virtual space with ease, and this scenario has encouraged experiments in creating space designs.  For example, Second Life often hosts virtual field trips or serves as a platform to display student media.  There are a number of social dynamics that promote teamwork and self-directed learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008f).
  • Wii.  This gaming console allows participants to interact with the game applications through physical gestures and movement.  Academic researchers have employed this technology to create applications such as an interactive whiteboard or collaborative choreography tools.  Researchers can use Wii and similar gaming consoles to test how active learning exercises can improve the performance of students with various learning styles.  Wii can stimulate physical activity (EDUCAUSE, 2008g).
  • Geolocation.  This application links digital content with a physical location.  Geolocation is also called geotagging.  A common use of geolocation is the association between a picture and its geographic location.  Geolocation can help to coordinate resources and information, which can add a new layer of understanding to research (EDUCAUSE, 2008h).
  • Zotero.  This online research tool offers automated bibliographic resources to users.  Zotero runs in the browser, so the citation process becomes seemless and easy.  All the bibliographic information of a Web page is stored in the consumer’s library of sources (EDUCAUSE, 2008i).
  • Ustream.  Users of Ustream can broadcast a personalized channel on this interactive Web streaming platform.  Consumers can promote their own shows, have conversations and host events on this platform.  Educators can employ the free streaming video and initiate a variety of authentic assessments using this tool (EDUCAUSE, 2008j).
  • Flip camcorders.  Flip video camcorders allow consumers to shoot, capture, and produce video content with this petite, economical, and user-friendly device.  For faculty members, these devices present new opportunities for authentic assessment and foster visual learning.  Because this process is user-friendly and inexpensive, teachers and students might find it palatable to produce video content that can enhance learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008k).
  • Lecture capture.  This technology enables teachers to record classroom activities and lectures and then make them accessible for students in a digital format.  Educators can limit lecture capture to audio, but video recordings that feature the lecturer, an electronic whiteboard, or screen capture are gaining in popularity.  Lecture capture further expands on screencasting (EDUCAUSE, 2008l).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008a, January). 7 things you should know about Lulu. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7033.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008b, February). 7 things you should know about Flickr. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7034.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008c, March). 7 things you should know about Google Apps. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7035.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008d, April). 7 things you should know about Ning. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7036.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008e, May). 7 things you should know about Multi-touch interfaces. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7037.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008f, June). 7 things you should know about Second Life. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7038.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008g, July). 7 things you should know about Wii. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7039.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008h, August). 7 things you should know about Geolocation. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7040.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008i, September). 7 things you should know about Zotero. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7041.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008j, October). 7 things you should know about Ustream. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7042.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008k, November). 7 things you should know about Flip Camcorders. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7043.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008l, December). 7 things you should know about lecture capture. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7044.pdf

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The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2007.

  • Digital Storytelling.  Digital storytelling combines a narrative with sound, video, graphics, or other digital content.  The stories usually incorporate an emotional section and are often interactive.  Digital storytelling creates a bridge between purely technical content and fields of study that may not view technology as a natural fit in their programs.  Digital storytelling can improve information literacy, and this application offers a promising platform for e-portfolios (EDUCAUSE, 2007a).
  • Open Journaling.  Open journaling employs an open access model in which the publishing process is streamlined through online submission, review, publication, and archiving.  This approach serves as an alternative to traditional peer-reviewed publishing techniques.  Open journaling provides an infrastructure where students can learn the basics of publishing, communication with journals, the peer review process, and tagging (EDUCAUSE, 2007b).
  • Creative Commons.  Creative Commons is actually the name of a nonprofit organization that offers an alternative to traditional copyright.  From a legal standpoint, original works automatically maintain specific rights.  Creative Commons allows authors to maintain some rights while releasing others; the intent of the company is to increase the distribution of and access to intellectual property.  The freeflow of information has the potential to greatly enhance all aspects of education (EDUCAUSE, 2007c).
  • RSS.  Subscribers of a Real Simple Syndication (RSS) protocol can access online material using an “aggregator” or “reader.” The tendency of most Internet users is to choose primary sources of information.  RSS provides consumers the ability to generate a list of those preferred sources so that updates and information are automatically sent to the subscriber (EDUCAUSE, 2007d).
  • Wikipedia.  This online source is a free encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute to or edit entries.  Wikipedia was initially launched in 2001, and is one of the most frequented Web sites in the United States.  College students are using Wikipedia as a primary research tool, with millions of articles in a multitude of languages.  Higher education faculty question this resource’s reliability as a research tool because entries are editable and are not subject to expert review (EDUCAUSE, 2007e).
  • Twitter.  This online technology is a hybrid mix of social networking, blogging, and instant messaging from a cell phone.  Users have 140 characters or less to depict their thoughts or convey what they are doing.  Interaction between students and educators can be fostered through Twitter in areas such as metacognition or ideas about an issue (EDUCAUSE, 2007f).
  • Cyberinfrastructure.  Cyberinfrastructure merges human resources, data and technology into one, and this technology is most often used in high power computer hardware and applications.  In education, this tool encourages students and faculty to share methods, tools, and experiences to enhance learning (EDUCAUSE, 2007g).
  • Haptics.  This technology allows users to feel what is happening on the computer screen.  Haptics applications present force feedback to consumers concerning the movements and physical properties of virtual objects displayed by a computer.  This technology allows users to move beyond traditional human-computer interactions, which have primarily been limited to images, data, or words (EDUCAUSE, 2007h).
  • Data visualization.  Data visualization illustrates information visually in a new format.  It is the visual approach that helps one discover relationships and trends that could be advantageous or significant.  This application allows students to process information quickly and see patterns that otherwise they might overlook (EDUCAUSE, 2007i).
  • Skype.  Skype allows consumers to make free phone calls between computers and low-cost calls between telephones and computers by using a voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP).  This technology allows educators to maintain contact between collaborators and colleagues in different locations at a minimal cost, if any.  An additional capability of Skype is to host videoconferencing from distant locations (EDUCAUSE, 2007j).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007a, January). 7 things you should know about digital storytelling. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007b, February). 7 things you should know about open journaling. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7022.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007c, March). 7 things you should know about Creative Commons. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7023.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007d, April). 7 things you should know about RSS. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7024.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007e, June). 7 things you should know about Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7026.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007f, July). 7 things you should know about Twitter. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7027.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007g, August). 7 things you should know about Cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7028.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007h, September). 7 things you should know about Haptics. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7029.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007i, October). 7 things you should know about Data Visualization. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7030.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007j, December). 7 things you should know about Skype. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7032.pdf

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EDUCAUSE produces a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  I describe the emerging technologies showing the most potential for education below in chronological order by year; the year 2005 through the present is covered in successive blogs.  The years do not necessarily represent the year of creation but of emergence.

  • Social Bookmarking.  Bookmarking occurs when a user saves the URL address of a Web site to a local computer.  Social bookmarking takes place when a user saves a bookmark to a public Web site and “tags” each location with keywords.  The ability to tag information resources with keywords and access these bookmarks through the Internet has the potential to alter how individuals find and store information.  Knowing where information is found may become less important than knowing how to retrieve information using a collaborative framework designed by colleagues (EDUCAUSE, 2005a).
  • Clickers.  Class size and human dynamics have traditionally restricted student engagement and feedback (e.g., a limited number of students dominate the interaction).  Clickers help to more efficiently facilitate engagement and interaction, which can be modified to any discipline and most teaching environments (e.g., small groups or partners).  A clicker is a small device that uses radio frequencies to communicate with a centralized computer in a classroom setting, such as the teacher’s or presenter’s computer (EDUCAUSE, 2005).
  • Podcasting/vodcasting.  Podcasting describes any hardware and software amalgamation that automatically allows audio files to download to an MP3 (i.e., Motion Photographic Experts Group Audio Layer 3) player.  This ability allows users to listen to or watch digital media content at their convenience.  Educators can use Podcasting as an asynchrounous learning tool that students can use anywhere, anytime.  If users add a video to a Podcast, then it becomes a Vodcast (EDUCAUSE, 2005c).
  • Wikis.  Wikis are powerful tools to promote collaboration.  The term “wikis” refers to Web pages that an individual can view and alter through Internet access and a Web browser.  This technology supports group collaboration and asychrounous communication (EDUCAUSE, 2005d).
  • Video blogging.  Similar to a blog, a video blog (vlog) employs video instead of text or audio.  Obviously, educators can use this technology to record lectures or special announcements.  In some instances, video blogs are used as an outlet for self expression or opinions (EDUCAUSE, 2005e).
  • Blogs.  A blog is simply an online journal, and viewers of a blog can respond.  The  technology is similar to e-mail.  Students usually employ blogs to complete assignments and for self expression.  Educators use blogs to support teaching and learning, promote dialogue, and express ideas or opinions (EDUCAUSE, 2005f).
  • Augmented reality.  Augmented Reality focuses on real space or objects and uses contextual data to expand students’ knowledge of that space or object.  It differs from virtual reality in that it does not generate a simulated reality (EDUCAUSE, 2005g).
  • Instant Messaging.  Instant Messaging (IM) allows for real-time communication through mobile computing devices or personal computers using the Internet.  IM now supports communication in the form of text, audio, video, images, and other attachments.  While IM has been around since the late 1990s, the functionality of IM is now ubiquitous with the advent of many new applications and mobility.  Learners using IM appear to feel connected with the faculty and peers in a way that is difficult using other multimedia.  Higher education has the opportunity to embrace this new medium of communication that requires little cost (EDUCAUSE, 2005h).
  • Collaborative Editing.  Collaborative editing allows several individuals to edit a document simultaneously.  In other words, this tool allows a user to edit a file or observe someone else editing the file in real time.  This technology is similar to instant messaging in that changes are seen instantly, and it resembles a wiki in that all participants can delete, change, or add content.  Collaborative editing provides a good platform for supporting groupwork in a distance learning environment; students can work together despite being separated by time and space (EDUCAUSE, 2005i).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005a, May) 7 things you should know about social bookmarking. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7001.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005b, May) 7 things you should know about clickers. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7002.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005c, June) 7 things you should know about podcasting. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7003.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005d, July). 7 things you should know about wikis. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7004.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005e, August). 7 things you should know about videoblogging. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7005.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005f, September). 7 things you should know about blogs. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7006.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005g, October). 7 things you should know about augmented reality. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7007.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005h, November) 7 things you should know about instant messaging. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7008.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005i, December) 7 things you should know about collaborative editing. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7009.pdf

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Using games to teach knowledge and basic educational content is gaining more attention in recent years. The discussion on harnessing the power of video games to teach actually began in the early 1980s with the popularity of Pac-Man (Squire, 2003, as cited by Jong, Shang, Lee & Lee, 2010). The premise behind using games for learning stems from the basic concept that enjoyment and fun are essential components in the learning process. The prospect of making learning more interesting to students served as the primary focus for early research on game-based learning.

New Theoretical Approach in Game-Based Learning: Behaviorism to Constructivism

This focus has changed in recent years, and the new focal point of game-based learning uses strategies to promote learning communities and sustained engagement over a long period of time. In this shift, advocates of game-based learning moved from a behaviorist perspective to a constructivist approach. In the old behaviorist approach, games aimed to condition an appropriate response in students by using techniques such as drill-and-practice games. However, transfer of knowledge from these games to the real world was a significant problem in the behaviorist approach.

In contrasts, the constructivist approach emphasizes the construction of knowledge by the learner. For game-based learning, knowledge construction is enabled by socio-cultural and cognitive interactions in an authentic and rich environment. Mini-games (1 hour or less) do not meet these requirements, but complex-games (dozens of hours) do facilitate this approach. In complex-games, players (i.e., learners) gain new and multiple skills, and the learners interact with other humans and computer-generated NPCs (non-player characters). Complex-games do not have a prescribed list of tasks, rather the tasks are open-ended. The open-ended and interactive nature of complex-games coincides with constructivist ideas of situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991, as cited by Jong et. al., 2010).

Education in Games vs. Games in Education

There are two primary approaches to implement games in an educational setting. One is the “education in games” approach. In this method, games from the commercial market are adopted and explored for opportunities to teach. Ultimately, this approach has been deemed more beneficial for informal learning than formal learning (i.e., school). On the other hand, the “games in education” approach seems to have much more potential for learning in a formal setting. Several pioneers have developed this games in education approach: Shaffer (2006, as cited by Jong et. al., 2010)-epistemic frame; Lee, Lee & Lau (2006, as cited by Jong et. al., 2010)-Folklore-based learning; Aylett (2006, as cited by Jong et. al., 2010)-narrative games; and Ip, Lukk, Cheun, Lee & Lee (2007, as cited by Jong et. al., 2010)-game-based collaborative learning platform.

Theoretical Framework for VISOLE

Having said this, very little discussion has centered on the role of the teacher in these environments, which was the reason for creating VISOLE (Virtual Interactive Student-Orientated Learning Environment). The theoretical framework for building VISOLE led the authors to focus on implementing three important aspects (i.e., phases) of constructivism: intrinsic motivation, situated learning and teacher facilitation. First, when students are intrinsically motivated, they participate in learning activities for the sake of learning, as opposed to an external reward. Second, situated learning places importance on acquiring skills in a strategic context that includes a relevant social-cultural situation.

Third, teacher facilitation is critical because simply allowing students to drift in a rich experience without guidance may not be an effective teaching tool, especially in transfer of knowledge to the real world. The role of the teacher is to aid in scaffolding and debriefing. Vygotsky’s (1978, as cited by Jong et. al., 2010) concept of scaffolding was to help activate the prior knowledge of students. In turn, students would be led to accomplish a task that would not be attainable without such prompting. After the gaming experience is over, debriefing encourages students to reflect on their experience.

Description of VISOLE and FARMTASIA

VISOLE was a new learning approach in game-based learning, and FARMTASIA served as the first working model of this approach. Reflecting the theoretical framework, the project was broken into three phases. The first phase was comprised of multi-disciplinary scaffolding. The second phase was the gaming experience itself, which emphasized situated learning. This is the phase that FARMTASIA was designed to support. The third phase was comprised of students’ reflection and debriefing. During the third stage, students were asked to submit a journal entry after each experience and after the entire project was over.

FARMTASIA was a complex-game and was designed to teach several disciplines including economics, biology, geography and technology. The game replicated a farm, and each player endeavored to cultivate and grow the farm. Several simulation models were imposed on the game that that reflected reality. For example, a player’s farm could be devastated by a disease in the crops, or an economic disaster could cause instability in the market. Most of these events were “unforeseen.”

FARMTASIA also had several other elements to make the game more intriguing and functional. Students had a chance to play mini-games within FARMTASIA, and the winner of such games was given an edge in the overall competition. Teachers were able to track the progress of students by actually viewing the recorded actions of students as a video. An online knowledge manual was created to serve as a learning resource and reference guide. Student reflections were posted to an online discussion forum and blog.

Did this article help in understanding the use of technology in education?

This chapter provided a concise summary of the history of gaming in education. I had no idea that interests in teaching through video games dated back to Pac-Man. I also appreciated the insight concerning the move from a behaviorist point of view to a constructivist point of view. I think the VISOLE approach was correct in stipulating teacher support and intervention. Under the guidance of a teacher, students would probably be more prone to apply knowledge in the real world.

What future trends do you see coming from this topic?

The idea of game-based learning seems really intriguing. If the game was decent, then it would certainly capture the attention of students. However, there are several barriers that must be overcome before game-based learning is embraced at large. I will mention a couple below.

Game developers of this content are going to have an enormous challenge to stay relevant. The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. If educators want to teach through a game that is relevant, then the game will need to be reflective of current games in the commercial market. This is a serious issue because someone will have to create, develop and update the games. It seems silly to offer a game to students that aims at relevance but uses outdated technology. In the end, this means someone will be spending a lot of time and money on game development.

Time and evaluation of students are also of concern. The authors noted they had an insufficient amount of “time for reviewing the students’ gaming histories and preparing the debriefing classes” (Jong et. al., 2010, p. 200). I would imagine that reviewing the history of each student is unrealistic. The authors did recommend a computer automated process whereby recommendations would be given to the students and teachers based on player actions. This computer automation might work, but a manual review would be impossible.

Having said that, I think VISOLE is an excellent idea. This approach seems realistic from that standpoint that I could imagine students gaining a great deal of knowledge from the experience. I see a direct implementation of this in career and technical fields. Teaching construction, drafting, pipefitting, electronics and the like might be facilitated well by this approach. A great deal of research would also need to be done concerning the actual transfer of knowledge to real-world application.

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When faced with a cloud of new emerging technologies, educators can easily get lost in what technologies are worth pursuing and what future trends will develop. Each year, The Horizon Report outlines the most promising emerging technologies in education. This year’s edition, The Horizon Report: 2010 Edition, alludes to six burgeoning technologies that will find a place in education over the next few years. One of the discussions centered around electronic books.

I would argue that the trend to adopt electronic books will be the “hurricane of the future,” rather than merely being a wave of the future.  Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, recently stated in a Newsweek interview that he believes ebooks will eventually force traditional books (i.e., ink-on-paper books) to “go away.” During this interview, he also speculated that ebooks would soon outsell print books on Amazon.com, and on Christmas Day 2010, ebooks outsold traditional books for the first time. The diagram of e-book sales, pictured above, demonstrates a rapid increase in popularity. In addition, a recent ECAR study on e-books clarified that consumers now use the Internet as the primary path to purchase books, whether traditional or electronic. This trend demonstrates that how consumers buy content (i.e., over the Internet) is changing more rapidly than what they buy (i.e., traditional vs. e-books).

Publishers are obviously fighting this wave because a large portion of ebooks downloaded are free. As stated in a recent Washington Post article, consumers prefer a large selection of books that are inexpensive, authors desire a greater portion of revenue, and publishers are fighting to retain their profit share. The most popular price point for ebooks is $0.00, and consumers have made it clear that $9.99 (the price point of most best-sellers) is still considered too high.

This dance between consumers, creators, and publishers has already been performed in the music, movie, and television industries. To a large degree, the “ink-on-paper” book is one of the last great bastions of analog technology. The music industry finally figured out that massive amounts of overhead costs could be saved by converting media to a digital format and disbursing it through the internet. Television shows and the movie industry have followed suit. At some point, the market will force publishers to go in this direction, either of their own volition or through market forces.

In the future, ebooks are only going to rise in popularity. Publishers would benefit most by riding this wave, rather than fighting the hurricane. While publishers seem to be solely focused on securing rights, maximizing royalties, and maintaining control, a revolution is taking place in the entire method of delivery, which makes many of these concerns obsolete.Picture of books and apple

What do students prefer in an electronic reader?

A recent ECAR study discussed the preference of students in relationship to electronic readers, which reveals mixed reactions. In short, students desire the e-readers to resemble traditional books in many areas such as quality and functionality. Specifically, the preferred e-textbooks were ones that offered the capacity for comprehensive note-taking, the capability to flip and highlight pages with ease, and the functionality of a color screen that was easy to read. The sacrifice of purchasing an expensive e-reader seemed to offset by the potential to make long-term savings in the purchase of books.

How will this trend affect higher education?

Kevin Carey wrote a fascinating article entitled “What Colleges Should Learn from Newspapers’ Decline.” The general premise of the article is that institutions that form over a long period of time and have a strong history tend to believe that they will always be around, newspapers would be the case in point. Universities need to consider books as a tool for learning. Having said that, e-books have a different set of benefits to aid learning versus traditional books. Currently, both have a place, but failing to recognize the pros and cons of each limits the possibilities of learning. As the ECAR study recorded, Henry Ford taught that people do not usually demand technologies that they have not experienced, yet in future years, these same individuals cannot imagine life without such technology. He was speaking about the car. Current society has seen this with the Internet. Will future generations one day view electronic readers this way? E-books are in their infancy, so it is way to early to make this assumption.

Is it time to take a leap of faith?

I personally do not think we are ready to take the plunge into e-books yet. I have yet to see a device that can outperform a traditional ink-on-paper book. No doubt, industry is slowly gaining ground with the latest Kindle and Apple’s iPad. The market forces have not made enough ground to justify the deletion of traditional books on campus. Also, the adoption cycle of books and technology must be considered.

Campuses should not ignore the potential of e-books, yet they should proceed with caution. Pilot programs give the zealous an outlet for now, but the university system as a whole will need to wait until the battle field clears.

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