It’s not all doom and gloom

Perhaps it was the lack of sunlight last winter, coupled with the general feeling of hopelessness when confronted with the actions of the Coalition, but it has been pointed out to me that this blog has become a bit negative towards eBooks and eReading in general.

These days there are more ‘Champions’ around than in Greek and Norse myth combined, and I am supposed to be ‘championing’ eBooks (although somwhere deep inside I’d rather be slaying Hydras and vanquishing Coalition barbarian hordes), so it seems a bit odd to some that I should be so critical. This is probably why I dislike the term ‘Champion’ being suffixed to someone’s job description because champions tended to be a bit fanatical about their causes.

eLearning champions?
A real champion (image copyright Simon Bisley)

Of course, if you’re going to war against Troy or challenging a great hairy giant to fisticuffs a little fanaticism can go a long way, but if you’re dealing with a sales team at BETT then a level head and a bit of critical thinking is more useful. Sadly my day-to-day encounters with technology consist more of troubleshooting and feelings of frustration (from others) than anything else and (more tellingliy) I’ve a habit of counterbalancing any mindless commercial pressure around me.

The Good News

But spring is finally here and I saw the sun properly last weekend and no iPods were lost at the last school,  so happy days are here again. In fact there was very positive feedback from the project, not least that it gathered interest from staff throughout the school if only for the reason that iPods and mobile phones are normally confiscated on sight. At the very least we have raised the profile of the school library (and by proxy our service), through use of technology – I was surprised that mine was the only handheld learning project currently running.

Initial feedback so far reinforces the emerging patterns from previous schools. Reluctant readers, including pupils with special educational needs, found eBooks to be a novel way into reading, particularly those who are confident with technology. On the other hand without ongoing support there was no improvement in reading levels, and reading is rated as a low priority for them, particularly in leisure time which I would argue is most important in fully developing reading ability. This is all common sense, though. There are no ‘magic bullets’, and a book is still a book, and words are no easier to digest whether digitally or in print. However it is encouraging that we can kindle (no pun intended) some interest.