Monday, February 2, 2009
Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog is a must-read resource for school librarians and those interested in instructional technology. Today he posted Cost of Paper, and given my recent thinking about alternate forms of texts, and my born-again attitude toward the Kindle, it seemed serendipitous.
The expense of textbooks, hardcover books, and the rigid nature of the format really gives me pause. Knowing how technology is lowering barriers to learning, why stick with the classic textbook? When I talk with an educational vendor, I want to hear how they are adapting their products. Is there an audio version? Can the text be manipulated (bigger/smaller), are there translation options, can the reader interact with the text by making e-notes, or bookmarking in some way? What about upgrades to newer editions, or repairs? It seems crazy to chuck a $175 science text, but after three years how much of the content is obsolete? Does the text have an e-text component and how user friendly is it? These are serious issues given the recent federal mandate for Universal Design law (UDL).
Or how about that desperate teenager who has to do his/her homework late because of a practice/game/rehearsal and doesn't have the required math text (because it weighs 18 pounds). That kid is likely to cut the page from the library copy, and then we have a damaged text with critical pages missing. It would be awesome to be able to upload new editions to a hand-held unit and not worry about vandalism to the paper copy.
Factor in the cost of paper and printing, which is what started this discussion in the first place.
Printing the NYT costs twice as much as sending every subscriber a free Kindle
Take a look at this 2 minute YouTube tutorial on the Kindle. What do you think?