Dale Peters’ Digital Lunchtime Lecture on eBooks in Schools (#DLL14)
by Kelly Mundt
Dale Peters from RM Education came to talk to us about eBooks in school. It seemed appropriate, not only because most of us were eating our sandwiches and apples like kids at lunchtime, but as the digital age progresses and children walk into their new school with such an impressive competence for anything that lets you navigate with your fingers, us future publishers need to learn a few tricks. According to some statistics mentioned by Dale Peters in his presentation, 42% of five to fifteen-year-olds use tablets at home. That’s nearly half of the kids who are in our school systems and if they’re on tablets all day at home, how can that be used to aid learning in schools?
As I was finishing the last bit of crust from my lunchbox sandwich, Dale Peters agreed with the assessment that digital material is what the kids are consuming nowadays. Despite a strong uptake of SmartBoard resources, homework apps, and virtual learning environments in schools, there has been little to no adoption of eBooks by education.
According to the data at RM Education, there are six reasons for this slow uptake: the cost of the platform for eBooks, schools’ access to e-readers; training requirements for those devices; lack of suitable eBooks for that age range; the allocation of eBooks to students (different formats per device); and, finally, some schools are still uncertain of the educational benefits.
In time, some of these limitations will resolve themselves, however Dale Peters and his team had decided to take up this challenge and launched a new web based eBook platform that allows a close connection between teachers, their students and their ebooks. What fascinated me the most about this system was its ability to engage the reader on screen. Perhaps I may be a sentimentalist at heart and never want my paper books to go away, but I was intrigued by the idea that a student, so used to playing games and interacting on a screen, might find it easier to read a book on a screen too.
The RM eBook platform provides analytics to teachers on literacy, such as a way to assess the students’ reading speed and how often s/he reads. The eBook platform has its customisable features too, where the teacher can add concepts such as quizzes and comprehension into the tale. RM offer a range of business models, allowing schools to spend a small amount on a book (pennies) in order to “rent” it for just a day, or however long the class require access to the students.
I am impressed by RM Education. They have done their market research well and have made something the schools want and that may be even more important than something the publishers think they may need. It’s a good lesson to all of us and a success story in the benefits of taking the time to speak to users and getting constant feedback.
I enjoyed this lunchtime lecture very much as it highlighted the problems many of us (as future publishers) will be facing in developing content for education. The way to solve these problems will be up to us once we are working in the industry, but for now, I just really want the eight foot dinosaur Dale Peters had mentioned at the beginning of the talk.
Yes, I would love to have one for my dorm room!
About the author of this article
Kelly Mundt is an overpaid and underworked Digital Publishing Masters student enjoying her stay in England before she has to decide whether or not to head back home. Her Twitter account has not tweeted in years and her LinkedIn account has yet to be plugged into the wall socket so all she has is her smile and humble hilarity to keep her memorable.
Last edited: 28 02 2014