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Showing posts from 2013

Ebook as Textbook Part 12: My Kindle Notes

The other day I was going to my online Kindle account with amazon, to use my kindle cloud reader and I thought that instead of going to Amazon, then choosing the Manage my Kindle option and select my book, I would just type in what I thought was address, I should have typed, but instead I typed and got something that I hadn't expected. I also found a big bonus for anyone who is currently getting their textbooks (hopefully for free) through Amazon. A magic place where all your notes and highlights reside, just waiting for you to use.

So as you are reading your etextbook, just continue to make appropriate highlights and notes (see Ebooks as Textbooks Part 2 and Part 6). The difference here is that we will be accessing the notes from an online tool, versus the My Clippings file.

Next, when you want to review your notes, log into your personal Amazon Kindle Page at This part of Amazon has a list of all your syncable books (si…

Shifting Baselines

I've always surprised about how it is so difficult to get starting integrating ebooks in schools or just to convince so many in the public to make to try reading from ebook devices. I've been working with ebooks for about 20 years, and I can remember when I attended the first International Etext Conference back in 1998, how I thought that in just a couple of years we will have ebook devices in the hands of the students. I'm constantly surprised at how long it has taken to get as far to where we are today, although I now know that a basic premise technology integration always takes longer than expected, and we were developing new and better tools all along.

I see the integration issue though as one related to "shifting baseline". With shifting baseline people identify something as normal or standard based on what was true when they gained awareness. Shifting baseline was first discussed in terms of fishing catches, people only though about their catch compared to…

Ebooks in Art Project: Part VI

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 11: Creating your own textbook

You go to school, you have classes and in those classes you will have others students, a teacher and and a textbook. That textbook, will usually selected by the school district for you use use (usually from a big publishing house), and will usually be a big book weighing quite a few pounds. That is the classic thought about textbooks, although they don't have to be like that.  don't have to be limited to a course, although if you are a teacher reading this you might now be thinking of building your own etextbook. A textbook , as defined by Google, is "a book used as a standard work for the study of a particular subject" (google 2013) and from that people usually think school. You can expand that definition to read that a textbook is that it is a book that you use to learn facts, strategies, and methods about a topic. So while you might create your own text book for a class,  think about how a repair guide or manual is actually a form of textbook to learn about a car,…

Ebooks as Textbooks part 10: Getting a Textbook (for free)

“A textbook can do much more than be on the one hand a mere statement of the results of reasoning such as the ordinary geography or German grammar is, or on the other hand a mere statement of problems, such as the ordinary arithmetic or German reader is” (Thorndike, 1912, 165-166)
Historically textbooks have been fixtures in education. Stein, Stuen, Carnine, and Long estimate that "textbooks serve as the basis for 75 to 90 percent of classroom instruction" (2001, p. 6). This is understandable in the times before the information as often the textbook was the only resource, outside the teacher that delivered content, as content area information was so scarce. Still today for many courses, textbooks are a default part of the curriculum's instruction often provide the facts learned in most subjects. For many students, textbooks are sometimes only content area reading, leading many to think of them as the authoritative tool, a font of accurate information and necessary to inst…

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 9: Hacking your Textbook

Hacking is a term that has been used to mean a variety of different things usually concerning computers or technology somehow. And while many think about hacking as breaking into secure computer networks, it can also be referring to modifying your own software or hardware on a computer system or even furniture (such as Ikea hacks). So hacking can include building, rebuilding, modifying, and creating software, electronic hardware, modding, or anything else, either to make it better or faster or to give it added features or to make it do something it wasn't initially intended to do. Hacking your textbook is to hack and adapt your textbook for greater personal efficiency, so that you can be great work easier. 

So if you have full access to your textbook, not just for reading, but access enough that you can make changes, then it's time to start hacking your textbook. If you are using something like an open access textbook, that just makes this so much easier. Ebook file formats are…

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 8: Textbook structure

Textbooks usually have a structure, and it doesn't matter if it is an electronic textbook or a paper printed one, the people who put the textbook together usually make it have a structure to help you better understand what you are reading and learning. Textbooks are usually a type of text known as informational or expository text - this is text written to inform, and can be things like textbook chapters, newspaper and magazine articles, and other reference materials like encyclopedia items. The other kind of text that you usually encounter in school is narrative text, where a story is being told - which could be fictional or non-fiction. And while textbooks are informational text, many will also have narrative text, usually as stories to help you better understand the concept, although in an English or literature class the stories are often more the focus of the learning.

Textbook Elements
With an electronic textbook it might be hard to see the structure, because you cant riffle th…

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 7 - Bookmarking

With digital text the bookmark changes too. No longer is it the placeholder for where you stopped reading - they system will remember where you stopped and if you sync options are on, it should remember where you stopped reading that text on all your devices. Instead the bookmark is more like a flag - marking places in the text where you find something interesting that you might want to come back to. The bookmark will add a symbol or dog ear the page. This way when you are reviewing your chapter, you will know when you come to a page that you found important before and that you wanted to review or seek assistance for.

One good way to use a bookmark is for something that can't be otherwise highlighted or noted, like an image. So for example you might find a good formula that is important, but in the text it is shown as an image. Here in the image above for example is the Combined Gas Law formula, but in the text it is an image, so it can't be highlighted by itself (although you…

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 6 - Taking Note

The process of taking notes, makes reading that much more of an active process and will aid in comprehension and retention. The addition of your own personal notes are usually easier to understand and remember than textbook material. As a student reads the textbook, he or she may not remember all of that they read when they have finished - this is especially true of very dense texts. But, if a student reads the information and also writes down notes about what he or she is reading at the same time, then that extra step reinforces that information and improves retention. So one of the best ways to retain information you are reading it is to take notes while you are actually reading it, for print books these notes were usually written in the margins of the text and so were called margin notes. 

The taking of margin notes is a strategy that focuses your attention on important information from the textbook, novels, or articles that you are reading. Because it involves tagging key words or …