I have been using eReaders for some time now and really enjoy the convenience and ease of use of these dedicated devices. In my travels to schools, I am beginning to see more and more schools pilot eReaders in the classroom, especially for students who struggle or who are unmotivated to read. Teachers see the value of students being able to change the size of the font and easy access to the dictionary feature. For many students who struggle in reading many are now more motivated to read on an eReader device as compared to a traditional book. Students can also peruse the Electronic Bookstore and of course with teacher permission download sample chapters from books to see if it will pique their curiosity to engage them in the reading process. But before you go out and purchase an eReader here are some questions you should think about:
1) Do I have access to WiFi in my school or building?
Many of the eReader's support WiFi as well as 3G which will enable you to download books directly to the device without the need to use a computer. If your school has a good WiFi infrastructure then you can save a considerable amount of money by buying the WiFi model of the eReader. For example the Amazon Kindle Touch with WiFi is $99 dollars compared to the Amazon Touch WiFi/3G model which is $149 dollars. If your schools doesn't support WiFi then you should consider the Kindle Touch WiFi/3G model which would allow you to download books over the air using the 3G network. There is no extra data costs associated with using the Kindle Touch WiFi/3G model for downloading books to the devices.
2) How long can I expect my dedicated eReader to stay charged?
Many of the dedicated eReaders that utilize E Ink technology can stay charged for long periods of time under normal use. The E Ink technology mirrors that of a traditional page and uses minimal battery life to render the black text on a white background. eReaders like the Kindle Touch and Nook that utilize E Ink technology can stay charged for up to 2 months- which is really incredible if you will be using in a school setting. eReaders that utilize E Ink technology assume that you will be reading the book with a lot of ambient light available.
3) Where can I purchase my books?
All of the major re-sellers of eReaders like Amazon, Bares & Noble, & Kobo provide the user with one stop shopping in their online book store. The online bookstore can be accessed from the devices and books can be quickly downloaded to the devices over WiFi or the 3G network. If you are purchasing books for a school you should investigate getting a corporate or school account with the companies so that you can purchase books with a school Purchase Order
4) Can I read other materials beside books on the dedicated eReader?
In addition to books many of the eReaders also support reading magazines, newspapers, blogs as well as your own personal documents in various formats ie. PDF & Word. When you purchase an Amazon Kindle you are provided with unique email address that you can send Word or PDF documents to, which can be delivered to your Kindle over the WiFi network. This feature is handy for students who want to read their documents on their eReaders
5) How important is having audio and Text to Speech capabilities on my eReader?
While eReaders are great for reading books some eReaders like the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch also support playing audio books from Audible.com as well as reading text on the screen if the Text to Speech capabilities have been enabled by the book publisher. For students with reading disabilities or for those who struggle to read having the text to speech capabilities is a great feature.Likewise, being able to listen to a professionally narrated book from Audible can be very motivating for students who need to reengage with text.
I hope these questions and answers have provided you with some food for thought when you are planning to purchase eReaders. If you have any questions about eReaders, please feel free to email me. If you are interested I am available to run workshops on using eReaders in the classroom.