Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The 100th post is all about books

So, after nine months of blogging I've reached the magic one hundredth posting. It's been great sharing ideas on how media technology is influencing and affecting education.

My one hundredth post, perhaps appropriately, is all about books, and where technology might be taking us. I've been conscious for the last year that the possibility of 'digital ink' reaching into schools and classrooms is getting ever nearer. 

Several developments have caught my eye:

Firstly, Amazon has updated its digital book, the Kindle, and is launching a new version that can display large format text, like newspapers, without the need to scroll. More information can be found here.

At the same time observers are starting to wonder how the art and consumption of literature itself might or could evolve as more consumers move to the digital domain.

The NY Times ran a great interview last month with Bradley Inman, the founder of VOOK, a new service that aims to combine a wide range of social networking tools and online facilities to create new interactive literary content. The article goes further, exploring what all of this might mean for readers used to accessing information from a trusty book. It's a great report and well worth reading.

Meanwhile Steven Johnson, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has produced an excellent piece on the impact ebooks will have on the way in which we consume the written word. Unsurprisingly it's a long article, but again it's very insightful and a good review of how preconceptions of the past may not hold true in the near future.

What does all of this mean for those of us in education? In the immediate future probably not a great deal. But I suspect that within two to three years we'll see companies offering large discounts to schools who bulk buy e-readers. The advantages are numerous - cheaper updates for new textbooks, since revised editions can be downloaded, easier integration between official textbooks and teachers' own materials, and the ability to search for information with greater speed and ease. Linking ideas together, synthesizing them, and producing a considered response, all key attributes in the modern wired world, may be coming to a digital classroom handout sooner than you think.