Tag Archives: eReader

eBrary eBook on a Tablet

eBook Platform Accessibility

I have commented, negatively, on the accessibility of supposed academic eBook platforms before, so it is a welcome relief to read the JISC post today – Accessible ebook platforms – seven honest dealers (and a few non responders) – whose findings support my claims – until recently many of them were not accessible, or even should be called ‘eBooks’.

My complaint is, and has been (and may continue to be), that they are not eBooks in the sense of an ePub or MOBI file, i.e. scalable, accessible, etc. Academic eBooks are files, often PDFs, loaded to a proprietary piece of software that controls access, printing, searching, etc. In this software you can view the whole book page inside their ‘skin’ which enables searches, thumbnails, chapter links, etc. When viewed on a desktop this is clunky, at best, but workable.  Continue reading

Tapping Into Mobile Learning

Tapping into Mobile Learning

Another infographic, this time looking into how we can tap into mobile learning. Some figures from the infographic for you:

  • Only 17% of surveyed schools state that children are required to use mobile or portable devices in the classroom, and only 16% allow BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Whether this is 16% of the previous 17% who allow the use of mobile devices or 16% of everyone surveyed is not clear.
  • Parents view the use of the use of mobile devices are used more effectively in early years classrooms to promote curiosity than in later years, but it is still significantly higher than for other uses, e.g. to foster creativity, to teach languages or reading.
  • Parents of children who are being encouraged to use mobile devices are more positive about the learning and educational potential of mobile learning. Notable differences in how parents view their child’s performance between those classrooms where mobile learning is required, to those where it is not, shows the biggest divide.
  • 2/3 or parents think schools should help students use devices safely.
  • 2/3 also agree that the very same mobile devices can distract children from learning.
  • Continue reading
eBooks Could Be The Future Of Social Media

eBooks could be the future of Social Media

eBooks Could Be The Future Of Social Media

“In the future, e-books will act just like social networks. We’ll use them on our phones, share and comment right inside e-reader apps, and publishers will use our data to help them make better marketing decisions. If you think digital reading is exploding now, just wait.”

So says Michael Grothaus in his article for the FastCompany website: “E-Books Could Be The Future Of Social Media”.

“In the future, e-books are going to explode beyond just containing stories, becoming niche social networks where we discuss our favorite passages with other readers and even authors and publishers buy our data to make more informed decisions. So hold on tight, book lovers. Reading as we know it will soon change, forever.”  Continue reading

The future of books

Textbooks: paper or digital?

The future of books

The question as to when (or if) paper textbooks will be replaced with digital editions keeps cropping up, and I was asked this again on twitter today by @SteljesEdn: “Are textbooks coming to the end of their life? what do you think”: read the discussion we had on the link.

So, will they? I don’t think so, not any time soon at any rate. The digital editions of textbooks currently available are little more than a PDF of the printed version, and for publishers that literally provide a PDF and call it an eBook .. shame on you! An eBook doesn’t have pages as the text is defined by the eReader device or software and can be altered by the individual: you cannot change a PDF text size except by zooming in/out.

In order for digital textbooks to really surpass the paper editions they need to offer more, and by more I mean embrace the technology and have embedded video, links, question & answers, and even link (in real-time?) readers from all over the world.  Continue reading

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur--How to Publish a Book

Book Review: “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book”

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur--How to Publish a Book

“APE is 300 pages of step-by-step, tactical advice and practical inspiration. If you want a hype-filled, get-rich-quick book, you should look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a comprehensive and realistic guide to self-publishing, APE is the answer.” Amazon UK

Anyone interested in writing a book (fiction or non-fiction) needs to take note of what Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch have to say in this excellent new book: “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book”. If nothing else, learn from their experiences.

Why am I reviewing a book about self-publishing? Well, publishing your own text is a phenomenon that I think, within academic circles, will grow as the process becomes easier and more people understand the ease and the benefits – and I don’t just mean the financial benefits either. This book from Guy and Shawn is just such a good place to start!

Whether you’re thinking of writing your own course text, writing an in-depth technical guide based on experience/training/teaching, or writing that novel that’s been on your mind for years, now is the time to seriously think about it.

The eBook, for that is what I have,  is 300+ pages of advice, information, details, anecdotal evidence, stories, links, quotes, tables, facts & figures, and entrepreneurial  ‘genius’ … all asking you the same question(s): are you ready to self-publish, do you have what it takes, and do you know your market? Re-read the title and you’ll understand this … “Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur”. You need to be all three if you are to make a reasonable attempt and (hopefully) success of your book idea.

Continue reading

What is a group of eReaders called?

If a group of geese are called a ‘gaggle’, and a group of Hippopotamus’ are called a ‘crash’ (bet you didn’t know that), and a group of Zebras are called a ‘zeal’ (again, bet you didn’t know that) then what is/are a group of eReaders called? Could it be a ‘Whispercast’?

Whispercast is the new free online ‘tool’ (product?) from Amazon to help schools “manage Kindle devices and wirelessly distribute books and documents to students”. Whispercast enables teachers and educators to access to over 1.5 million Kindle ebooks, including bestsellers and free classics, they can then easily purchase and distribute them among student devices (Kindles, obviously) to develop personalized educational programs for all age groups.

“Whether you’re looking to distribute literature for class or use Kindle for your corporate training or incentive program, Whispercast helps you reduce the administrative cost and complexity of sending Kindle content and managing your Kindles.”

This could be great if all those schools hadn’t gone out and bought all those iPads first [smirk]. But think about it, all those iPads could quite easily be running the Kindle app?

Here’s a video introducing and explaining the tool:

YouTube: Kindle at School / Whispercast

Kindle Touch

A week with the Kindle Touch

Kindle TouchI’ve been using the Kindle App on my phone and pad for almost a year now and really enjoy the freedom it gives me to just pick up the story/eBook where I left off, even if it wasn’t on that device. So, with the opportunity to test out a Kindle Touch for a week at work I thought ‘yup’ and bagged it quickly before anyone else.

First impressions are mixed:

  • Connection to Eduroam wifi at work was quick and easy, as was wifi at home.
  • Registering the Kindle with Amazon was also quick and easy.
  • I could browse the list of archived books, but not initially download them.
  • I could browse the Kindle store and buy books, but not download them.
  • It was only after three tries at de-registering and re-registering the Kindle did access to my archive and bought books work and I could start reading.
  • The screen is good, especially in bright sunlight, and in direct comparison with reading on the iPad/iPhone.
  • Much easier to hold than the iPad, although it’s harder to balance on your lap because it’s slightly smaller.

What else did I find? Well:

  • Get a case for it. I don’t know how durable the screen is but you’ll need a case/cover for it if you want to keep it working.
  • Touch screen is good but not as good as the ones I’m used to. I also found myself touching the screen more forcefully to make sure it registers the touch, where in fact it is probably more sensitive than other touch screen.
  • Buying eBooks from the Kindle store is too easy, keep a check on purchasing and your account.
  • Email-to-Kindle service is really good to send yourself documents to read, it’s just a pity the screen isn’t up to colour and/or better resolution. Have patience though as the documents do take a while to be prepared and sent by Amazon.
  • Don’t accept the default font size, try a few out and choose the right one for your reading style.
  • Try the landscape mode – it’s easier to read some things this way instead of portrait.
  • Battery performance is good. If you’re not bothered about updating reading process then turn off wifi to make it last even longer.
  • Amazon should have kept the side buttons for forwards/backwards page turning, it is not always easy to touch the screen to progress the pages, depending on how you’re sitting and holding the Kindle.
  • Using the Kindle to read documents is OK, but not ideal. I haven’t explored the annotation/notes ability but I have heard it is good (but not great).
  • I have not explored the X-Ray feature yet either, but this should be good for teachers to use as it enables a page or chapter review for characters, phrases, locations, etc.

Here’s a selection of images from my time with the Kindle:

Here’s a handy hint … if you want to capture the screen, like I did above, then hold down the Home button for about 3 seconds then touch the screen just once. You won’t see anything happen but, next time you connect the Kindle Touch to your PC via a USB cable the 600×800 GIF will be available in the root directory when you browse the device! Nice!

Other reviews of note you ought to be aware of:

I’m still waiting for the Kindle Fire to find it’s way to the UK – I think this could be a game changer for eBooks and interactive reading experiences, as much or more so than iBooks … but perhaps it’s more wishful thinking than anything else.

Kindle App

‘Kindle’ eBook App

‘Kindle’ eBook (iPhone/iPad): I didn’t go out and buy a Kindle when they first appeared, but I wanted to. At the time we were testing the Sony eReader at work so I borrowed one of those for a couple of weeks, which I didn’t like (mainly due to hassle of connect-to-upload and software issues, but it was still OK to use).

Since then the Kindle and other eBook readers have come along way. The new look Kindle Touch, B&N Nook and the new Kobo available in the UK WH Smiths are all impressive devices, but they still do not have the overall functionality of the iPhone or iPad (except the Kindle Fire, which is still not in the UK yet! Grrrr!).

And so to the Kindle App for iPhone and iPad:

“The Kindle app is optimized for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, giving users the ability to read Kindle books, newspapers, magazines and PDFs on a beautiful, easy-to-use interface. You’ll have access to over 900,000* books in the Kindle Store. Amazon Whispersync automatically syncs your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across devices (including Kindle), so you can pick up your book where you left off on another device. ”

Kindle Free : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/kindle/id302584613

I recently read and finished the complete Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which I bought for the Kindle and downloaded on both iPad and iPhone. Depending on where I was and what device I had available I read the eBook in about a week (yes, I’m a fast reader when I enjoy the book). Whist I downloaded the Kindle App about a year ago this was the first paid-for book I’d read on it and the experience was great – it was easy, enjoyable, I could pick it up for a page or chapter or two at a time, etc, etc.

Why am I including this as an App in learning and teaching list? Here’s why:

  • Sync (Whispersync) – the ability to save progress in any book on any device that is running the Kindle App (including your laptop/desktop) and advance to this point when you pick up another device and want to continue reading from where you stopped.
  • Publishers are becoming more accepting of the format of electronic books, so expect to see versions available in different formats, including EPUB, in the future. In which case the Kindle and Kindle App will be an excellent choice.
  • One advantage I can see about using Kindle and Amazon in general (whether it is using an Amazon device or just the App) is the ability to send documents to your account and device via email – “Email PDFs & other documents to your new Send-to-Kindle e-mail address and we deliver them to your device. The documents are automatically archived in the Amazon Cloud and available for re-download on your iOS or supported Kindle devices.” If Schools are not using this when they give these devices to students to get learning materials to the students then they are missing a HUGE trick – I would if I was involved in that kind of project!
  • Scale the text to the size that suits your eyesight, and even change the background from white to ‘paper’, even white text on black for night-time reading.
  • Simple touch the screen to progress/turn the page, or you can swipe to turn.
  • Access to massive Amazon eBook store (+900k reportedly available).
  • Dictionary – tap and hold a word to view the definition (dependent on connection).

Other resources you should look at about Kindle and eBooks:

Are you using a Kindle or the Kindle App (or both)? How are you using ‘them’, and are you involved in a scheme whereby the students are given one (or an account) and you send them the documents they need instead of them downloading from the VLE?

eBook and eReaders

eBook and eReaders (Infographic)

I really ought to find somewhere else to publish all these posts and ideas on eBooks, but considering I think they are a ‘considerable’ part of the future of eLearning then they’ll stay here for the moment.

This infographic is, like most are, based on facts and figures from the US but still holds some interesting numbers, if you look for them:

  • 7% shift towards using an eReader between 2010 and 2011.
  • 1 in 6 will use or buy an eReader in the next 6 months (that’s an estimated 53 million Units for an estimated 312 million Americans).

Source: LiveScience (click to view)