Ebooks and 21st-Century Learning

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School libraries are filled with traditional paper books--great resources for the students who take the time to go into the library, locate the book on the shelf, leaf through it to see if it has potential to provide the information they need, and then check it out to spend serious time with it.

But put that way, it sounds like a lot of work to access a library book, doesn't it? Maybe more than most of today's fast-moving, digitally savvy kids are willing to do.

The library's resources also offer teachers an abundance of options to enhance daily classroom lessons. Yet with all that teachers are expected to do each day just to present the core curriculum, it is becoming increasingly difficult to spend any amount of time in the library looking for additional resources.

Enter ebooks into the equation, and you'll discover an entirely different result. When electronic versions of books in the library are made available to students and teachers via the internet, an array of new teaching and learning possibilities unfolds.

The potential of ebooks in schools can be forecast by the sheer popularity of ebooks in society in general. Over the last 5 years, ebooks are the only book publishing segment consistently showing double-digit sales increases. The Association of American Publishers' (AAP) 2007 "S1 Report" reveals that sales of ebooks have enjoyed a compounded growth rate of 55.7% since 2002. And there's no sign of a slowdown. AAP statistics show that the sales of ebooks are continuing to grow at a staggering rate--up by 77.8% for the month of September 2008 ($5.1 million), reflecting an increase of 55.2 percent for the year.

Why should librarians and other educators jump on this bandwagon? Twenty-first-century school libraries really need to do more than inventory information for students. They need to provide the tools and resources students need to develop technology and information literacy.

Ebooks move school libraries into the 21st century for a few very simple reasons:

* Ebooks provide instant access to library books.

* They bring lessons to life.

* They engage struggling readers.

* They connect technology and learning.

24/7 ACCESS INCREASES OPPORTUNITIES FOR ONLINE LEARNING, READING, AND RESEARCH

Think of the student who waits till the last minute to complete a research assignment. He needs one last resource to be able to turn it in on time. With ebooks in your library, he can log on to your catalog, search and preview sources, then download the appropriate source, all from home, even in the middle of the night before the assignment is due!

Once an ebook is downloaded to the user's computer, it is checked out for the same period of time as the traditional book, and users can make notes and often copy, paste, or print sections. That means teachers and students can locate the books they want and check them out whenever the mood strikes. Reading and learning expands beyond the classroom and school hours.

VISUAL EXAMPLES OF CLASSROOM LESSONS

More and more schools are employing classroom projectors and interactive whiteboards. In fact, one study suggests that one of every seven classrooms in the world will feature an interactive whiteboard by 2011. …