Monday, April 2, 2012

E-reading in our Schools?

E-reading Rocks!

I was talking to a fan at a book signing on Friday, and she mentioned that she bought her 13 year old a Kindle two Christmases ago and was frustrated that her teachers at the Jr. high wouldn't allow her to use it in class. This included her daughter's English teachers. This was interesting to me because I am a teacher.

Once I got the idea for my book, I quit full time teaching and started subbing for friends. As I would run around subbing, I almost always took a poll in the classes I taught and asked how many students had e-readers of some sort and how many used them. I was more than curious.

Last year, I found that in Jr. highs in my area, Davis County, Utah, about 1/4 of students had the capability to read an e-book on a portable device. Only 1/20 of those students ever brought them to school to use because teachers wouldn't allow them.

In the high schools, I discovered 1/3 of students had the capability, and 1/10 used them in schools. Some English teachers allowed them and others did not.

This year, I found 1/2 of Jr. high kids had them and about 1/15 used them in schools. Kids say teachers are getting used to the idea if they aren't "old". No reading on your phone, though.

In high schools, 3/4 of students have the capability and yet, only 1/10 use them in school. They say they just haven't ever downloaded a book, and teachers outside of English classes don't allow them to use them during free time. So, they might as well have a print book. A lot of these students use iPhones, and teachers don't trust their students. Big surprise. Dedicated e-readers can be used, but no phones.

I can sympathize with these teachers, but at the same time, the world is changing. It's time to step up and embrace the contemporary look of books. The new Jr. high in our district is totally paper-free. The students are issued laptops, and all their books and course materials are online. I haven't been out to see the library. Can you imagine the library being an e-library? Wouldn't that change things?

I think it's important that we step up as parents, students, and communities to help school administrators adopt e-book friendly policies. If we don't, "old" teachers will remain in the 18th century and kids won't be able to take advantage of the technology available to them.

I have a Nook and love it. Does that mean I have to stop loving print books? No way! My shelves are stocked and I will continue to buy print books, but boy do I enjoy the ease of use of my Nook.

After we've reformed school policy, lets lobby the airlines to allow us to use our e-readers during taxi and take-off-that would be some great reform

I'll keep dreaming.

Have you jumped into the e-reading craze? Do you have a dedicated e-reader of do you use your phone or tablet? Do you think kids should be allowed to use their e-readers and phones at school to read? Inquiring minds want to know.


  1. I'll second the call to be able to use my Kindle during taxi and take off on an airline!
    this is a great post -- and I think schools often need to do a better job with technology. My oldest DD is dyslexic, so we got her a Kindle Fire for Christmas because -- big surprise -- she likes reading better on the device that looks like an iPad than from a plain old book. I get not trusting students with cell phones ... problem is, as a parent, I'd probably struggle to wonder why I should buy a second device when my kid can already read from the one they have. Not sure where the right answer lies...

  2. I'm a teacher in IL and I've noticed more and more kids with ereaders/tablets/etc. It's slowly changing. They bring them to read for pleasure. I think it'll be harder to use them in class when they're reading books in English because the teachers have to keep them all on the same pages, the kids have to text mark, etc. and they sometimes collect the books to look at that (reason #435 I'm not an English teacher). So until we see large-scale adoption at schools for kids to all have a tablet/ereader, it may not be a teaching tool just because every kid can't afford to buy one.

    I say that the schools should just buy them in bulk and get a good deal on them so they can sell them to each kid at registration, like add it into the fees. They have to have $90 graphing calculators that they use for 2-3 years and then throw in a drawer and never look at again. Why not spend $80 on a ereader that could be used for school and for fun.

  3. I spoke to the junior high science teacher at my kids' Catholic school about this a month or so ago. She's the tech queen at the school.

    Her ONLY concern with ereaders is access to the internet and inappropriate websites. Other than that, she thinks they're a fabulous idea. She's exploring ways to make ereaders and tablets viable in the school environment.

    My kids' school is very technologically-forward. Each student is assigned a laptop in junior high that's keyed into the smart boards in class. It's pretty amazing stuff. The opportunity to use a tablet would be great too, especially for the portability factor.

    My daughter's in 4th grade and she already had to buy a wheeled backpack because the textbooks were ridiculously heavy. I'm all for it!!!!

  4. I have yet to buy a dedicated e-reader, but I read a lot on my phone. I would say no to reading on phones in school, though, because it's not dedicated to reading and too hard for teachers to monitor. But I would totally support reading on dedicated readers. Reading is reading, right? Who cares if it's paper or electronic.

  5. I was so frustrated the last time I was on an airplane and couldn't read on my Kindle. I ended up bringing a print book too! I think schools will eventually catch up? Maybe? not sure. Computers never took off like they were supposed to. This would have to go back to colleges and what the new teachers are being taught - how are they going to incorporate technology and ereading into the classroom. From experience, education doesn't change overnight or anywhere close to it.

  6. I think "old" teachers are going to be forced into the e-reader age within 10 years anyhow. Lots of presses are no longer making thing available in print while others are only making lead books available in print. It's true school libraries do order lots of big six books, but lots of books written primarily for the school library market come from small educational presses or small presses with an emphasis on education. But I find this article interesting, because my husband and I were talking about it just last night. And it seems e-textbooks would be cheaper and more efficient, not to mention easier on the back and less crowded in the locker.

  7. I'll dream right along with you because that is totally how it should be! I get that airlines are worried about navigation systems with things that go online, but schools of all things should understand that many base level eReaders can only get on a bookstore's website.

  8. My 4th grade daughter has a Nook and reads on her ereader at home and a book at school (usually from school library). I actually don't know the policy, but I just don't want her to lose or break it at school. I think ereaders w/o internet access should be allowed in schools however.

  9. My daughter school allowed the kids to use their e-readers last year well at first it was great kids were reading but after a while the kids got on line and got side tracked from their school work and their reading. This school year they are not allow to use them at all.

  10. This is such a great discussion. My son (6th) grade regularly reads books on my ereader--I plan to let him have mine when I upgrade my Kindle. :)

    I don't know what the policies at school and such are regarding them, but I definitely think dedicated ereaders should be allowed. I like the "idea" of being able to read on the phone etc., but I can see the difficulty that would present.

    Still, I do think schools need to "get with the times" and allow ereaders. Great post Cindy!

  11. Love this. Kindles, Nooks, and other ereaders are wonderful. My kids love them all via their iphones.

  12. I can see where it would be difficult to police these devices to make sure kids are reading, but it's a shame so many teachers aren't allowing them. The basic Kindle seems very limited in its online browsing ability. Maybe the manufacturers need to come up with a special line of ereaders that can't surf beyond going to their website to download books. They could sell them in bulk for a special price to schools.