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Ebooks for a Village School

Ok, this isn't news but it is experience. I am currently working a project in the Dominican Republic that includes ebook reading. The project that we are working on is a multi-organization project between CEL & SIFE at UNF to build and deliver a working shipping container multi-computer classroom to a remote village elementary school in Pananao. In an earlier visit as part of a needs analysis to find out what the school needed that the computer lab could support, I found that books were one of the areas that the technology could help with. For example the Kindergarten classroom only had about 10 books for the children. In discussions with students and teachers it was found that reading materials beyond textbooks are a need. As the school is elementary I have been researching elementary reading ebooks (emergent readers, picture books, and chapter books) in Spanish (although if any one has more please send me the links to the sites). So far we have the room on site and a satellite connection for the network and are working to also place the network into all the school classrooms.

Here is an area that I feel that ebooks can make such a difference. I understand how many people feel about ebooks, that they just don't have the feel of a "book" that it just isn't the same. But when you don't have a book or you are just limited to a small number (like 10), then it may not matter that much to you if it doesn't feel the same. The research on the impact that it makes is on an individual is so important, now some is hard to know for sure if it is causal or just correlated, but the amount that you read, and the number of books you have access to does seem to have a major impact on a person's life and school success. As the internet expands to more remote areas, ebooks can provide the resource  to students in those areas to have more access to books that they may not otherwise be able to. While this project is right now limited to one school, envision the possibilities of a low cost reader that can access though wifi and cell networks to provide students books.

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