Our wonderful library has received a set of brand new Nook Color eReaders, and being more than happy to be a guinea pig (or, at least, to let my students play that role), I decided to give them a try this month for my literature circles.
I gave six Nooks to one of my reading groups and loaded them up with a few popular Project Gutenburg titles: Tom Sawyer, Doctor Doolittle, The Jungle Book, and Treasure Island, all available for download free along with thousands of other classics. (My students found Treasure Island boring—the first few chapters anyway.)
How well do the eReaders work? Here are some of the good things that I found from my initial trials:
- The page numbers of eReaders are different, so getting on the same page is a little hard. I could see having kids getting lost easily without a common point of reference. Setting up bookmarks will have to be a must.
- That said, being able to change spacing, text size, and other features in what you are reading could be a boon for students who have trouble reading fine text.
- Research, research, research: You can touch any word and get an instant definition. This is so easy and effortless that my students were looking up all kinds of terms. Another link takes them to Wikipedia or a Google search for searching for names or places. So much of reading is making connections, and using an eReader allows you to make those connections easily.
- Internet access makes these eReaders a watered down iPad in many respects. My students can look stuff up, post to my blog, or work on their Edmodo page. However, most don’t have the kind of control over content and oversight that a school would like. Until we figure out how to properly manage WiFi on the readers, we shut it off.
- Organization/management rights. Most of the e-book market is made for consumers; you buy the rights to a single copy of a book and can install that single copy. How does a school keep track of all those rights? How can it manage 10 copies of each text? How do we lend a copy to another school? Ten years from now, when we want to know what copies we have rights to, where will they be?
- Asset tracking. How do we keep students from walking off with the Nooks? Having them sign a waiver seems a little much, but unlike the iPad, most eReaders don’t have the ability to track their location.