There’s a side of me that feels the reason I spent so much time blogging this past week – to start the new year – discussing the issues, challenges, opportunities, and so on, of print books versus eBooks, is because the way the issue resolves itself in mass culture will eventually drift down into the way it makes itself manifest in our classrooms.
Unfortunately, however, we’ve sort of seen this play out before when personal computers really took hold in society… and made their way into classrooms as, drumroll please, glorified typewriters.
Now, I have no idea how a migration to eReading digital texts from our current state of living in a printed text world within school might get mucked up, but I do believe that unless we set out to purposefully and mindfully professionally develop the skills of the people at the front of the rooms – so they can guide the skills of the kids sitting in the chairs – we could be facing a history repeating itself type of scenario.
Just passing out a ton of eReaders and telling the teachers, “All the content is pre-loaded… bubble tests will be in May, good luck!” seems like 1) a recipe for calamity and 2) the leading manner in which I think eBooks eventually will get rolled out en masse.
Of course the early adapters, the schools that are already using eReading devices and the such, will probably fare much better because those types of schools (i.e. early adapters) are filled with people who typically want to buy in to this change. The admins, the staff, the kids (well, the kids – I think they are ready NOW across the nation; it’s the adults who are not), somebody has taken the initiative to lead the push. This implies that they have both a comfort with the technology as well as a capacity to navigate the technology.
But what about the teachers, admins, and schools that do not? These are the ones who are going to have the purchase “made for them” and be expected to learn and adapt and migrate whether they like it or not.
Can you see the mess already?
eReading is a coming. Printed books are moving from omnipresent to a “you gotta share the space” mode and adaptation is the order of the next decade.
We’re gonna need a whole lotta teachers for the teachers to pull this all off.