by Vicky Zygouris-Coe
Many schools are using e-readers in a variety of ways depending on device availability and teacher capacity. Some school districts are considering widespread adoption of e-readers as a remedy for reduced school budgets; after all, textbooks are costly, cumbersome, and uninviting. Will e-reader adoption result in improved reading habits? What are key considerations about e-reader use in the classroom? The following are sample suggestions for e-reader use in the classroom.
1. Decide on the role e-readers will play in your classroom—will you use them for exploration or independent reading purposes? Will students use the e-reader to read fiction or non-fiction text?
2. Research e-reader availability and capabilities. E-readers offer built-in dictionaries, the ability to highlight and change font sizes, text-to-speech features, highlighting and bookmark features, word-text search features, and note-taking capabilities. Some e-readers offer black-and-white screens versus color, touchscreens versus keypads. Which e-reader features are important to you?
3. E-book adoption is complicated--collaborate with your school library specialist. Each e-reader reflects book selections associated to its bookstore. The Kindle is linked to Amazon, the Nook is linked to Barnes & Noble, and the iPad is linked to iBooks. Research available book selections for e-readers. Book selection choices are particularly important for children’s literature. Several book titles are not available in digital format (e.g., To Kill a Mockingbird, Cather in the Rye).
4. Allow time for exploration. Allow students to practice using the device to read different types of text (fiction and non-fiction). Have student practice using e-reader features such as (a) the dictionary, (b) changing the font size, (c) highlighting important parts of the book they can reread, share with others, or discuss, (d) note-taking feature, or (e) saving and retrieving notes. Provide students with access to the device’s corresponding bookstore where they can explore titles and download a sample chapter to their device to read. If the device supports audio books that can be downloaded allow students to download and listen to an audio book.
5. Provide instruction on how to read digital text with e-readers. Reading digital text is a non-linear and demanding process. Equip students with comprehension strategies and scaffolded support for reading digital text.
E-readers, if used effectively, can support individualized instruction, promote motivation to read, and develop students’ 21st century literacy skills. E-readers can alleviate the financial strains of print textbook adoption and can also have long-term benefits for the entire school population if they become a permanent component in the school curriculum. Although we have seen improvements in e-reader capabilities and costs, we have not see improvements in compatibility and Digital Rights Management. To make an informed decision about selecting an e-reader that will best support your students’ learning needs review the pros and cons of each e-reader and collaborate with your school library specialist and other teachers.
Vicky Zygouris-Coe is an associate professor in Reading Education at the University of Central Florida, School of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, Vassiliki.Zygouris-Coe@ucf.edu.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).