Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Attempting to re-KINDLE the book reading spark in the middle of the online literacy forest fire!

Is it not hyper-ironic, now that human literacy has evolved to a new state, one that is shaped to a large degree by its own reliance on digital technologies, that a very large percentage of those humans whose profession it is to foster literacy in younger humans have decided that technology is an impediment.

One response to this silly “either we know youngsters are literate because they read hard copy books OR we know they are not literate because they don’t read hard copy books” take on reality is to translate the classic format of the book into a Digital Age Corollary, the “e-book”. With this act of comforting sleight of hand the understanding that The Book IS Literacy can move forward without the walls of its box being torn, re-shaped, or challenged seriously.

And of course as these dynamics play themselves out there are individuals and organizations ready to promote, purvey, profit, whatever… Not necessarily to the detriment of anything, but definitely to hitch a ride for their own agenda on the backs of the general population’s unfamiliarity with The New.

A most fascinating new development in this set of interlocking circumstances emerged recently on the heels of an international outcry about the loss of Literacy among today’s students. This was based on the release of a report by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that alarmed and galvanized literacy snob ludites far and wide. The new development is the release of KINDLE, a new generation of e-book “reader”, a portable digital device that will enable purchasers to carry (and read) e-books with them anywhere, paralleling the ability of iPod users to download and listen to music.

Here are 2 articles that give details about the Kindle and its hoped for “clicking” with this new generation of readers; hoped for despite the failure of e-books and digital e-book readers to light a literacy fire under the tails of humans previously. Also embedded are some examples of Ludite and Dig-ite chatter that reveal the underlying paradigms of the parallel universes these 2 species occupy simultaneously.

Article from Los Angeles Times “Reading between the lines with Kindle”

Article: from eSchool News “Can Kindle ignite interest in reading? Some say Amazon's Kindle is the future of books, but others aren't so sure”

At the end of the day though, just as you can’t go home (how’s that for a quote from classic hard copy literature), there is no preserving an old paradigm when a new one is born and begins to muster strength. The e-book will have a life of its own and make its own special contribution to human literacy, far beyond being the simple translation of an old format into the stuff of the new digital era. Educators had better understand and embrace this!

Following are some online resources that upon examination should provide abundant ‘ah ha’s” about what e-books are, how they differ and in many respects provide functions and options that outstrip hard copy books – doing this while not only preserving, but expanding the possibility of Literacy as a state for humans.

Suggested e-book links for educators:

General/Background info on e-Books

Blind Bookworm http://www.panix.com/~kestrell/
This older website (parts of it are out of date) is a meta-resource with links to a mother lode of information and e-books, etc. Interest in e-books has been episodic over the years and this site is a good example of the ebb and flow of that interest and related activity.

if book: A Project of the Future of the Institute for the future of the Book
A blog giving good perspective on the theme from its name is derived

Light Learning e-Learning center
“This page provides links to some resources about e-books and e-textbooks and the part they can play in education and training.”

Good-to-Go e-Books

International Digital Children’s Library
Give a glimpse into an alternate universe – the tip of the ice berg vast amount of free books for youngsters available online in e-book form

Children’s Story Books Online http://www.magickeys.com/books/An interesting approach to books online that really are simply websites.

Tumble Books
http://www.tumblebooks.com/library/asp/customer_login.asp?accessdenied=%2Flibrary%2Fasp%2Fhome%5Ftumblebooks%2EaspThis group provides books to be read online over a school’s network. An interesting approach to selecting and distributing e-books for young readers on a mass scale.

Creating e-Books.

Teachers can create their own books for students or make the creation of books a project they present their students. Here are a couple of items that address this dimension of e-books for education.

Creating eBooks with PowerPoint (or any other presentation software)

How To: PowerPoint E-Books http://www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.php?articleID=51200498

http://cybertrain.info/ubook/ubook.html How to and resources on creating e-books.

The Evolving e-Book

Not only is the e-Book not understand and not receiving the attention it deserves, but it form and function continues to evolve, as well. Here’s a new approach that will open many new horizons for the e-book should it catch on!

(MSDN Forums) Make your iPod Touch a Powerful learning Gadgethttp://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=2595584&SiteID=1
Create eBooks for the iPod: * This bit of software turns text files into ebooks that you can read on your iPod. After you load a text file, it will make the text readable through iPod Notes (which you can find under “Extra Setttings”). * iPod eBook Creator - convert books into iPod notesThis utility/PHP script loads large text file and splits it into iPod notes. It is easy to read your book in plain text format on your iPod via Notes functionality. All iPod notes will be automatically linked, so you can move from one to another with absolute ease. It's as simple as turning pages of the book.http://www.ambience.sk/ipod-ebook-creator/ipod-book-notes-text-conversion.php

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