eBooks Go to School
The World Library Blog Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 21
Monday, August 1, 2011
by Michael S. Hart
Founder, Project Gutenberg
Inventor of eBooks
eBooks Go to School
More and more schools are handing out various ereading devices, now even including cellphones, to each student entering schools mostly at the college level; this is in addition to hundreds of colleges and other schools that have done similar projects with netbooks, laptops, tablets, etc.
The idea behind all this is to stimulate faster discussion with the aid of instant footnotes and other lookups. Rather than it taking an entire minute for every student to find the footnote, the teacher already has them all online labeled with URLs, just cuts and pastes the relevant URLs into a class email. Students just cut and paste at the other end and INSTANT FOOTNOTE!
This also allows students who find extracurriclar footnotes for the class to also share them, thus widening the parameters.
These footnotes can take the form of text, pictures, paintings, maps, etc., and I'm sure that as this progresses the footnoters will be able to provide highlighting, map pointers, etc.
Some institutions, such as MIT [kudos to MIT!] had been putting ALL their teaching materials online for years before the latest innovations, and not just online for their students but an open access eLibrary where everyone can work at their own pace to do an MIT style education.
More and more schools, libraries, media centers, etc. are doing similar things with online resources, eBooks, etc.
The idea now is to promote viewing class assignments at home to allow more time for better class discussions and doing what was called "homework" a while ago in class under the new system.
This allows for a much faster question and answer portion for a homework problem which might not have been stated as clearly as possible to start with, thus paving the way for more "homework"
accomplished today, and a better way of stating the "homework,"
to be made available for the next generations of students.
In additions, errors in the texts can be corrected instantly to be downloaded by the rest of the class, as opposed to the hours by the millions wasted in the old days when teacher and student populations used to sit down on the first day of school to make all the corrections that had been noted earlier, penciling them in next to the incorrect portions of the text.
As time goes on the delays between the real world and classroom will decline to the point where elements discovered "yesterday"
will appear in chemistry and physics books "today." These will be accompanied by some latest longest bridge, tallest building, or other world events that used to take years and years to make it into textbooks, encyclopedias, etc.
You probably wouldn't believe how long it took Einstein's world shaking treatise of 1905 to make it into the Britannica, years!
So, today, instead of the newest information in your textbooks, reference books, etc., being years out of date already, classes can literally read and discuss new events the very next day.
Of course, let's not forget just how much more easily eBooks in class make it to look up quotations in the great books provided at World Public Library by the millions.