E-book Usability in Educational Technology Classes: Teachers and Teacher Candidates' Perception toward E-book for Teaching and Learning

E-book Usability in Educational Technology Classes: Teachers and Teacher Candidates' Perception toward E-book for Teaching and Learning

Sunghee Shin (Queens College, City University of New York, NY, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/ijdet.2014070105
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This study was designed to enrich the learning experiences of in-service and pre-service teachers in two educational technology classes by adopting e-books as the course material. Graduate students were more positive about their e-book reading experience than undergraduate students, but, surprisingly, more undergraduates (63.6%) became interested in checking out e-book readers from the school library than graduate students (51.9%). Over three-quarters of undergraduates (78.6%) responded positively about the use of e-book readers by the end of the study. Despite their appreciation of e-book features, more than half of both undergraduate and graduate students preferred print books but were willing to use e-books and e-book readers for their readings. Shortcomings of e-books were eye-strain and the limitation of e-book collections.
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The use of e-books is promoted by school library administrators for their cost savings, but its usefulness in classrooms is still yet to be determined. In academia, the e-book approach is used to develop full online course material. The Ebook Task Force for the University of California digital library charged by the Joint Steering Committee on Shared Collections identified seven features that are important to the evaluation of academic e-book usage: advanced search capabilities, linking of text, browsability, marking and highlighting text, citation tools, bookmarking, and interactivity with sources such as dictionaries and media (Coyle et al., 2001, p. 12).

Libraries have an e-reserve system for remote and online learning which includes direct links to electronic journals along with features such as discussion boards and chats. Research suggests, however, a course should provide the reason for reading the material by successfully linking academic theory, practical exercise, discussion, and extra readings (Mercieca, 2004). We expect, as Snowhill (2001) predicted, that academia will increasingly adopt unconventional media that can be “transferable, in a non-proprietary format, into a variety of software and hardware readers to offer readers a choice of additional features and for libraries to loan e-book content (p. 1).” E-book models are discussed extensively within studies of library and information science but a lack of research exists on how the e-book model promotes teaching and learning. Based on current research on e-books and teacher education in a digital era, this study advocates, first of all, a short-term goal of increased interest in e-book reading among teachers and teacher candidates, and second, a long-term goal of the promotion of digital literacy to encourage teachers’ use of innovative technology in their classroom teaching.

The Oxford Dictionary defines an e-book as “an electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.” Interestingly, the definition includes both the concept of e-books and e-book readers. Vassiliou (2008) defined e-books in two parts ─ first, the essential and stable nature of e-books that refers to a digital object with textual and/or other objects, and second, features such as search, reference functions, hypertext links, highlights, note taking, etc. It is particularly difficult to define e-books due to their rapid development and the variety of functions of each reader, but the essence of an e-book is described as 1) any piece of electronic text regardless of size or composition (a digital object), 2) made available electronically (or optically), and 3) for any device (handheld or desk-bound) that includes a screen (Amstrong et al., 2002, p. 217).

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