After doing the research about digital textbooks it seems as if the capability of digital textbooks to be interactive depends on not only the textbook but the reader one chooses to view the textbook on. A digital textbook may include links to podcasts, blogs, games and other exciting resources but if the eReader doesn't have internet capabilities then those all go to waste. The opposite is also true, if the eReader has internet or typing capabilities, but the digital textbook is exactly the same as the classroom paper-based textbook with no additional resources then it makes it more difficult to really interact with your digital textbook.
Here are what I found to be the pros and cons of digital textbooks:
-Text-to-speech programs allow students to listen to the text as they read along
-Features that allow for personalization such as text size, reading speed (of text-to-speech programs)
-Students can take notes and use highlighter features right on the digital textbook, almost makes a paper-based notebook unnecessary
-Cheaper than regular textbooks usually by between 30% & 50%
-Students no longer have to lug backpacks full of books around.
-Some readers for digital textbooks can instantly get students connected to the internet to work with enhancing resources.
-They are searchable. Instead of using a glossary or table of content students can type what they are looking for into a search box it will automatically take them to the pages that the particular topic appears on.
-Requires students to have computer and internet access at home or to own some sort of eReader.
-Could widen the gaps between the poor and rich because wealthier districts can afford to purchase their students eReaders while poorer districts may not and thus they are not getting the same educational opportunities.
-Can be more expensive in the long run because digital textbooks require some form of technology to read them.
-Not all digital textbooks have interactive abilities.
-They can be written in different electronic formats making a book impossible to read on certain eReaders.
-More straining on one’s eyes and students may tire quicker reading their digital textbooks.
-eReaders and computers require you to monitor their battery levels. If your reader dies half way through class you no longer have your textbook to use.
-Not all textbooks are available in digital form yet
Overall, I think that digital textbooks are a great idea but that we shouldn't get rid of paper-based books all together. While I love the idea of a book that is interactive with instant dictionaries, notepads, and links, I love flipping through the pages of a real book or being able to show some one the chunk of a book that I read in one sitting. You can't get the same feeling with digital books. I have to say as well that I think digital textbooks would not be my top priority to get into the classroom for a little while longer until, hopefully, more books are available in digital form and they are available in more universal formats so that one textbook can be read on any type of reader. However, I do see the really great potential of using interactive digital textbooks in the classroom.
Most of us have heard about the iPad, Nook, or Kindle, but how many of us have heard about "The Kno." This is an eReader made with educators and students specifically in mind. It is extremely interactive allowing students to take notes and highlight their books as well as have their book and a notepad open at the same time. I've found some great YouTube videos here and here that are really informative as well as some videos that really demonstrate its capabilities here and the official video for it here (I really recommend this one!). The Kno is currently unavailable to individuals looking to purchase them so that the company can first reach out to educators and students and be able to document their experiences with it, but hopefully as the one video states that they'll be available for purchase soon. Also the Kno comes in two formats, one that looks more like a regular textbook with two tables and the other that is more newly developed is just one tablet, like the iPad. After watching the video and reading up on the Kno I think that this type of reader is really what makes me want to use digital textbooks in the classroom because this allows for endless possibilities in the textbooks' interactivity with the user. I really recommend checking it out for yourself and deciding what you think about the Kno and whether you'd like to see it used in your own classroom!
If you are interested in reading any of the articles I found on digital textbooks or the Kno please don't hesitate to ask, I didn't post all of them here because I didn't want my entire post to be swarming with links.
Have a great Tuesday everyone!