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Showing posts from December, 2011

Saving money with digital textbooks

I understand that for many the addition of a new technology seems counter-intuitive as a cost savings device. But think about ebooks like hybrid cars, compact florescent lights. The hybrid car gets so much better gas mileage and that new energy efficient light will save electricity that you can end up saving money over time, not that you should run out and get a hybrid car or new bulbs, but if you were about to replace your car or lights it would be a good thing to look at. That is kind of how you have to start thinking about electronic books and devices. Yes, a good ebook device that will allow students to interact with the text, such as by highlighting, margin notes, bookmarks, and interactive dictionaries will cost close to $100, and if you are thinking about adding that as an extra it is a cost increase and once you multiple it by some number of students it can be a big cost. But, and this is a big but, what many people don't realize is how often textbooks are replaced. The st…

Art Project Part III - Art Reading and Ebooks

I'm surprised at how many paintings that I'm finding of people with books. It just shows how much books are a part of our culture. In these two pictures the time frame is from1514 to 1850, over three hundred years, from when books were rare to when people started having their own large collections. While I love the ease of access and accessibly that ebooks provide to me, I do still love to browse a good bookstore and see what I can find. I sometimes wonder if we are at that time when milk delivery changed from being horse drawn to motor trucks. I remember one movie where the delivery person couldn't just give up his horse, so he had it walk with the truck, in the back instead of pulling. Are readers the new milk truck, which begs the question - Where are the milk trucks now?
Carl Spitzweg (1850) -
The Bookworm (with a Kindle Touch)
Quentin Metsys (1514) -
The Moneylender and His Wife (with an iRiverHD)

Auto Summarization

In dealing with textbooks and students with disabilities, one of the most common things that we would do is to get the textbook in a digital format, as an ebook. By doing this we were able to use a number of tools based on the need of the student. I've had students who could not lift their physical printed textbook, but would be able to access though a laptop installed in their electronic wheelchair, for students with vision issues we could boost the font size or use a text-to-speech tool to have the book read aloud to them. One tool that I used with a number of my students who had issues was the Auto Summarize tool in Word. The tool works well with textbook, but wouldn't work for other texts, such as novels.  I used this to reduce the amount of text that they had to read, the "cognitive load" of the text, but would still enable be able to get the information. Word did a great job, and depending on the student I would reduce the text to about 66% for facts and suppor…