Opinion: The Future of Children’s eBooks (GeekDad Weekly Rewind)

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A Picture of a eBookA Picture of a eBook

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Increasingly, those who are interested in how mobile technology is being used to raise and educate our geeklets are telling us that if we just use these Android, iOS or other smart mobile tools in ways that simply mimic analogue devices then we are doing everyone concerned a disservice. Ewan McIntosh probably puts it better than anyone. His major issue is not allowing students to personalise and “own” the iPad by putting them in 1980s computer lab like spaces.

You cannot get the most out of an iPad without letting the student own it, and harness their personal accounts, tastes and media for some creative learning. Putting it in a lab…takes away from the iPad’s principle boon: it helps us move further away from the office metaphor of learning and into new, personalised, anytime anywhere learning metaphors.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with books.

Many schools that are trialling and testing out the iPad as a learning device see it as a way to cut down on oversized textbooks and simply provide a new method of delivering large slabs of text. This is a very limiting view of the potential of eBooks and how they could be used to develop 21st century skills. (Of course, others are pushing the new tools to its limits.) Even traditional publishers who are creating (but mostly transferring) some really beautiful stories to the iPad have a limited view of what eBooks should be.

The eBooks being developed for our children are interactive, sure: touch the pig and it makes a pig noise or touch the light on and off or even shake the iPad to make it snow. But these things have been tried and tested. Remember children’s books in the 90s that came with speakers and batteries that would make sounds and read the story along with you? In effect these texts for the iPad and other devices are electronic pop up books sitting on a device that has the ability to link to all the knowledge of the world.

The prevailing view is that “the book” is a self-contained entity.

[Read the rest of Dan Donahoo’s excellent opinion piece from Monday.]

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