E-readers – schooling the future!

Textbook

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Governor Schwarzenegger has announced plans for California high schools to start ditching textbooks in favor of digital media, starting with math and science books. The claim is that with so much information available in digital format, why waste precious little budget money on textbooks that just get outdated and tossed?

Similarly Taiwan plans to roll out e-readers in classrooms this year. This is part of their efforts to further digitize schools and promote reading.

E-readers are definitely cooler than reading PDF files on the laptop and/or computer. The reader is light-weight and easy to carry. In fact, it may not be just an e-reader. Some of the Sony mobile phones have e-reader software installed ; convergence makes for carrying fewer devices.

With e-readers, you probably do not have bother about outdated curriculum. In addition, rolling them out to schools promotes volumes and some form of subsidies.

And there’s always the green argument. E-books are so much greener than paper ones. More green gold!

For the next generation, at least, books in paper form may just become an anachronism.

But for me and others from my generation , until we are convinced that reading off a tiny screen is more convenient and not so much of a strain on our sensitive eyes , the switchover will have to wait. This is not that much of an argument against e-readers – most of us already access our email and the internet on our mobile phones. Also, there is the affordability issue. Books in India , especially ones printed by Indian publishers, cost a tiny fraction of what they cost in the developed world. Would we get the same kind of prices for the e-books? Would this make a case for discounted later editions of books? I have argued for this elsewhere; something like software versions available at discounted rates to existing users. And why not? It is about customer loyalty , after all. Though a more cynical reader may term it more of a lock-in. 🙂 And believe me , no-one likes that word or its connotations. Ha!

What about libraries? How would they make the transition to a digitized world?

Some libraries such as the British Council Library have decided to provide some of their collection of books as e-books to their patrons.

Here are some articles and posts related to schools and e-readers.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/whats-the-eco-impact-of-californias-plan-to-ditch-school-textbooks-for-ebooks.php

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9141560/Taiwan_plans_to_roll_out_e_readers_in_schools

http://collegetou.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/ebook-readers-into-schools/

http://buyetextbooks.com/tag/california-schools

http://technological-teaching-aids.suite101.com/article.cfm/advantages_of_ereaders

http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2009/1221/The-e-reader-generation-speaks-about-e-books

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Updated for British Council Library.

Online libraries

Revisiting this post…

The British Council library is going online. From the 3rd week(?) of January 2010, the British Council, besides moving from Nariman Point to Lower Parel, is making access to it’s  library available via the internet. No more browsing physically or sitting at one of the tables and reading the many magazines; you just log on to http://www.mylibrary.britishcouncil.org/

and make your selection of books, CDs and DVDs. They will be delivered to your doorstep; no renewals required and pick-up will be done at your doorstep as well.

This is quite similar to the service offered by LibraryWala.com. The British Council have a wider variety though.

Though the change increases convenience and ease of use, and definitely reduces travel, I will definitely miss making the trip to town at least once a month, which allowed me to cram in a movie or two as well.

Things may not be so bad though; There’s still the American Library at New Marine Lines. The library details can be found at http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/americanlibrary.html.

And the membership fees are a nominal Rs. 400 per year per individual.Rs. 700 for 2 years. Just 4 books per individual subscriber. Corporate a/cs have more privileges.

See you there! Maybe! I didn’t say hear you there, did I?

PS: I am now a member of the American Center Library as well!

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