Engage Event: eBooks, eReaders, eLearning

Hi there – I’m here, blogging live from ‘Engage’ – our teachers and educators workshop.

I’m currently sat in the midst of a discussion on ebooks and ereaders. Like it or not, it does look like ebooks are part of our learning future.

Here are some pros and cons of ebooks:-


Lots of places to find free etexts:

Easy to manage your library:

  • You can use Calibre http://calibre-ebook.com/ – free software that enables you to group and convert ebooks, so you can use it on different devices

Easy to cut and paste into word:

  • You can add quotes to essays easily


Too many formats?:

  • There are two different formats that ereaders use:
    • Epub 2 (iPads, Sony)
    • Mobile format (Kindles).
    • We can also use PDFs (iPads, Kindles, …); but this format is quite fixed – you end up having to zoom, or move your cursor around.

No page numbers (in most ebooks):

  • Hard to say ‘ok – let’s start on page 5’
  • But if they’re searchable we can just get students to search for a certain line

Can’t always annotate:

  • This is difficult for students who are studying a text

Don’t always know the edition:

  • Ebooks lack the integrity of published copies

Other comments, issues, and thoughts about ebooks and teaching:

  • ‘It’s great because you don’t have to search all over the internet – the ebooks are there’
  • ‘You can have the ebook open whilst watching a podcast, or listening to a lecture’
  • ‘About a third of undergraduates are using ebooks rather than paper texts in class’
  • ‘School teachers still teach with hard copies of texts’
  • ‘School students still use hard copies of texts in exams’
  • ‘It would be great to have first folios online’
  • ‘We don’t take English classes in IT rooms – but it’s likely that it won’t be long before we do’
  • ‘ebooks are cheaper (once you’ve bought an ereader)’
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2 Responses to Engage Event: eBooks, eReaders, eLearning

  1. Kate O'Connor says:

    Another pro: It’s also easier to search for a particular word or phrase in a large text
    Another con: They don’t smell like books…

  2. Rhonda Riachi says:

    I agree that real books feel vastly different from ebooks, although I can easily see many uses for both. Having discussed the appeal of a printed volume with Peter Robinson today at the Engage event, I am convinced that there is a subtle but vital connection between a reader and the artefact we know as a book, which cannot be entirely reproduced digitally.

    For example, an old book brings with it the publishing style of its day; its typography, smell, feel and colour. I can then interpret – and make allowances for – the cultural norms of its time, which may be vastly different from my own. Even a new edition will offer other such contextual hints (reviewer’s comments, etc). From what I have seen to date, no such clues are given in a Kindle version.

    The Bodleian’s scanned pdf versions provide a halfway-house between these two formats, including the marbled endpapers (beautiful!). Different situations will call for different technology. For me, if it’s a holiday, it has to be a paperback 😉

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