The Rise of e-Reading: Infographic Profile

A recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project entitled The Rise of e-Reading details the profile of the e-reader and contrasts that profile with readers of printed books.

“The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material. Using a broader definition of e-content in a survey ending in December 2011, some 43% of Americans age 16 and older say they have either read an e-book in the past year or have read other long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone.

Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers. Foremost, they are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books. Compared with other book readers, they read more books. They read more frequently for a host of reasons: for pleasure, for research, for current events, and for work or school. They are also more likely than others to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it, and they are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general, often starting their search online.” More

Here’s an infographic representation of the report.

Using iBooks Author: A Video How To

For years, I’ve posted pdf versions of my lessons and made them available for free. Here’s some screenshots of a document based question (DBQ) I’m working on that explores the American Homefront in WWII. To see more of my free pdf lessons click here

Click to enlarge thumbnails

I’ve download iBooks Author and I think it’s time to turn some of my PDF lessons into iBooks. Apple’s new authoring program, certainly lowers the barrier for doing that. I look forward to the day when a student asks a teacher if it’s OK to turn in that project as an iBook.

While searching the internet for some how to guides, I found this great video introduction to the process made by Jeremy Kemp.

For more guides and tips, see my resource collection Publishing with iBooks Author

Building a Better Mouse [Trap] the Student Innovation Contest

David Lakatos Snail Interface
David Lakatos Snail Interface

OK, it’s not really a better mouse trap…. but it is a better mouse. Winners of the third annual 2011 UIST Student Innovation Contest (SIC) have been announced. Student teams were given a new Microsoft TouchMouse and provided with a pre-release of the TouchMouse API. The goal of the contest was to design new interactions using this state-of-the-art hardware. For more on the contest and all the winners

Winners of the UIST SIC 2011
Winners of the UIST SIC 2011

Here’s a few of my favorites…

The Moussage Mat

FlipMouse Game Controller

Snail Interface

SmartPhone – Dumb School

Lockedphone This week I attended a panel discussion sponsored by Mobile Portland entitled “The Myth of Mobile Context.” I was treated to an all-star panel that tacked tough questions exploring challenges, opportunities, design considerations and the user experience in the mobile context.

Through the talk,  I kept thinking about a quote from my previous post – The Future of Schools – Three Design Scenarios

“With rare exceptions, schools currently treat the digital revolution as if it never happened. Computers, more often than not, still sit in dedicated rooms, accessible only with adult supervision.

… When students step out the door of the institution called school today, they step into a learning environment … in which one is free to follow a line of inquiry wherever it takes one, without the direction and control of someone called a teacher… If you were a healthy, self-actualizing young person, in which of these environments would you choose to spend most of your time?

… The more accessible learning becomes through unmediated relationships and broad-based social networks, the less clear it is why schools, and the people who work in them, should have such a large claim on the lives of children and young adults…”

While I’ve seen some cutting edge schools / teachers that have effectively embraced mobile technology and social networking, too many educators see smartphones as a distraction from learning. Many schools block Facebook, Twitter and the rest of social web as if it was pornography.

So where’s this put our students? For many it means that they must leave their smartphone at the classroom door and surrender themselves to an information culture controlled by the adults. What’s the mobile context in schools? Not much, it’s banned as subversive to learning.

Every day in school, students must “forget” about the information control and functionally their phone gives them to browse, research, monitor, network, shop and entertain. While they might view a photo just posted to Facebook from a friend’s mobile as the catalyst to a conversation, their teacher considers it a distraction from learning.

Mostly technology in school offers an “illusion of modernity” – automating routine tasks like word processing, or watching a teacher having fun at the smartboard. If students do get online in school – it often involves viewing “filtered” web content with limited functionality.  Of course students need lessons in “digital hygiene.” But curating all their web content and interactions doesn’t teach them responsible use, it just sequesters them behind a firewall. “Suspicion invites treachery” ~ Voltaire

When students do get on a school workstation (laptop or desktop) they quickly realize that it doesn’t “know” them as well as their phone does. Their personal device carries a wealth of information that’s important to them – contacts, photos, data, memories. To the school desktop, students are just a user on the network with a limited range of permissions. The biggest problem with the school computer is that it doesn’t do “place” at all. That’s a stark contrast to students’ mobiles, which geo-browse via the growing number of locational apps and geo-tagged information stream.

Mobile context in schools? Not much.

Maybe it was a bit harsh to entitle the post “Smart Phones – Dumb Schools.” But try doing without your smartphone tomorrow and see if that doesn’t feel like a pretty dumb idea.

For thoughful insights on the mobile web watch this great Slideshare by Yiibu.

The Inconvenient Truth About Textbooks

School-books I just went to the iTunes App Store, and in one impulsive click, downloaded Al Gore’s companion app to his book “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.”

It’s an immersive learning environment that begs the question – $4.99 iPad app or $49 textbook? 

Watch this promo video and you decide if the eBook has made the traditional textbook a relic. If you need some more numbers to help you make the decision -a quick search on textbook costs turned up this data from a 2005 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. “The average estimated cost of books and supplies for a first-time, full-time student at a four-year public institution was $898, or 26 percent of the cost of tuition and fees. At community colleges, the estimated cost of books and supplies was a whopping 72 percent of the cost of tuition and fees.” 

EBook or textbook – still trying to decide?  Don’t forget that future updates of the app could add more content or features – how about social networking?

Update: A hat tip to my friend Martin Edic at 24PageBooks who pointed out that Push Top Press (the folks who did the Gore’s book) plan to release a publishing platform for authors, publishers and artists to turn their books into interactive iPad or iPhone apps — no programming skills required. Imagine when students can make their own!