Proposing the Use of E-readers in the Classroom

By Jeremy Rinkel on September 19, 2011
  • Grades: 9–12

The idea of using e-readers in my classroom came to me several years ago. As textbooks become more expensive and school budgets continue to shrink, e-readers and e-books have become a popular option for schools. After researching e-readers and programs at other schools, I decided to put a proposal together for my school. 

The idea of using e-readers in my classroom came to me several years ago. As textbooks become more expensive and school budgets continue to shrink, e-readers and e-books have become a popular option for schools. After researching e-readers and programs at other schools, I decided to put a proposal together for my school. 

Before launching a schoolwide program, I proposed that my school board pilot e-readers in my English classroom. As I prepared my proposal, I realized that my proposal revolved around three key questions: 1) Which e-reader best fits my school's needs? 2) How will e-readers be used? 3) How will e-readers benefit students in my classroom? These questions, along with a discussion of the benefits of e-readers, possible outcomes of the program, and the replacement cost of current materials, were all included in my proposal to use e-readers in the classroom.

 

 

Which E-reader Best Fits My School's Needs?

During the last several years, hundreds of e-readers and tablets have been introduced. As I researched, I began to note the pros and the cons of these devices. One helpful resource was a comparison sheet compiled by Michael Hyatt, the chairman of ThomasKindlereading Nelson Publishers. I knew I wanted something durable and well-reviewed. I also wanted a device with a built-in Web browser for research. Cost ruled out Apple's iPad, so I decided to go with Amazon's Kindle 3. The Kindle 3 has great battery life, is very dependable, and has an experimental Web browser. As my school looks toward a full-scale implementation of e-readers, I felt I could recommend the Kindle for our students. My classroom will never be the same now that I have introduced e-readers.

 

How Will E-readers Be Used?

The e-readers will be used a variety of ways in my classroom pilot program. I plan to read novels, informational texts, and short stories, many of which we can download for free. One organization that provides e-books with a noncommercial Creative Commons license — which means they can be downloaded for the classroom for free — is the CK-12 Foundation. In addition, hundreds of novels and short stories can be downloaded into various e-book formats at Project Gutenberg. Barnes and Noble's Nook and Amazon's Kindle Kindlepost2 also offer free electronic titles.

Our district plan is to go with e-readers over textbooks at some point in the future, and I've found that everything from supplemental to foundational materials are available in electronic format.

How Will E-readers Benefit My Students?   

E-readers and other mobile devices will benefit my students a couple different ways. For instance, vocabulary is one area that I'm focusing on this year, and the Kindle will be part of that effort. By improving vocabulary, students will hopefully improve their reading comprehension skills and understand more difficult texts. As my proposal explains, with a Kindle, students will be able to put the cursor on a word they do not know and the definition will pop up on the screen. In the past, students would not have taken the time to look up the word, and the meaning in the text would have been lost. With technology, there is a possibility that students will be more engaged in the reading. Research has shown that engaged students are the students that learn the most. In this way, e-readers in the classroom have the potentital to change student attitudes and performance.

Web Sites for Initial Research of E-readers in the Classroom Handkindle

As I researched the use of e-readers in the classroom, I found myself revisiting several Web sites, including The Unquiet Library by Buffy Hamilton. Hamilton has put together a very helpful site for schools that want to introduce e-readers into the library. The Web site provides resources and forms to get your e-reader program going.

When I was narrowing down which e-reader to purchase, I consulted the MobileRead Forum. The MobileRead Forum doesn't necessarily focus on schools, but their comparison charts and other informational posts are useful. Probably the most helpful online resource was the eBook Educators Group, which is sponsored by eReadia and discusses issues surrounding e-readers in schools.

Is your school looking to implement an e-reader program? What Web sites or resources have you found helpful?

Comments

I was concerned that I wouldn't like ereaders when I tried them. Reading a book is a nice feeling. Once I tried a larger early kindle I didn't really like it, but after trying a paper white I really liked it and now I have one and use it frequently with my kids.

Is it possible to see a copy of your proposal? I'm in the process of writing one for my 11th & 12th grade ELA classes. Thanks!

Nice Information, very useful stuff. Thanks a lot for sharing.. - Riflescopeguy

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It is a revolutionary way to learn something or simply grap the news. These help a student:

1. Larger font size (compared to a handphone)
2. Smaller device size (compared to a laptop)
3. Cheaper than a high-end handphone and a standard laptop

There is definately a lot to learn about this subject. I like all the points you've made.

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This article is very informative and corresponds to my own thoughts on using ereaders in the classroom. How did you handle this logistically? Was each device set up as a different account with Amazon? When I have tried placing the same book on multiple devices, each appears as one copy of the book with each device on the same page, instead of multiple copies on multiple pages. I hope that makes sense. I would love to discuss the implementation of using ereaders with you. Please contact me at the email address provided.
Vanessa

Great read. I am working on a proposal for implementating a plan to replace textbooks with e-readers, iPads in the school system where i am employed. This study is part of my Graduate Capstone proposal. I would like to send you a survey would you like to assist me?

You can certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

Why aren't e-readers or kindles being formatted for school use? E-reader can be used to take exams and can prevent test copying, which is prevalent in many parts of the world. E-readers can aid teachers to organize students work for grading. E-readers can open the door to students' access to long-distance learning, which can open up many opportunities to the endeavoring student.

I haven't been able to find any kindles or e readers that will offer a discount on a large ammount purchased. I am looking to find the best price for about 150 kindle's, nook's, or any ereaders.

Barnes & Noble offers a discount on bulk device purchasing along with local support, training, and account management. Joliet District 86 in Illinois has added a bunch of nooks into some of their schools and the program has been wonderful. Contact a local B&N store and they can get you all of the information you need.

I am the mom of a boy with dyslexia and we've used an ereader at home for a while now. It's been fantastic. He can bump up the font and focus on one page at a time and not be intimidated by a thick book - there are lots of other benefits too - I blogged about them here - http://www.jennascribbles.com/kindle/are-kindles-good-for-struggling-readers/

These are just my thoughts - a mom. But hey, he's doing REALLY well in middle school and I'd like to think part of that success was from the ereader.

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