The Impact of Electronic Books on Education
In this day and age technology has become a part and parcel of our daily lives. Every day new electronic devices and software are being developed with the sole aim of improving our lives by making it easier. Education is a sector that has been impacted greatly by technology. The 21st century learners need to be equipped with skills to compete effectively with others in the labour market. Advancement in technology has benefited students from across the globe by aiding the learning, teaching and instruction process. Technology has transformed education by moving it from the classroom setting to a global space.
In a move to fully embrace technology, policy makers in the education sector have included it as part of the school curriculum and as a supplement to the same curriculum. Technological advancement has opened educationalopportunities to students because it has become more affordable in a way that even schools that operate on an insufficient budget can now afford it. There are numerous types of technologies that are used for education. In this case I will focus on electronic books (E-books). Electronic book refers to a digital book publication containing of images and texts that can be read by a computer and other electronic gadgets like smartphones and mobile phones. Most of them exist without the print form (Gardiner, Eileen & Ronald 164).
Some authors have dedicated themselves to writing exclusive E-books as they are cheaper to produce. The objective of this paper is to critically assess the impact electronic books have on education. To achieve this goal, I will examine the role that e-books play in the learning process, the benefits enjoyed by the students, challenges facing e books and future trends in the e books industry. My judgement will be based on well researched evidence.
The History of Electronic books
The first Electronic book to appear in the market was “The Soft Book and GemstersRocket e book in 1998. It was followed in 2000 by Stephen King’s Horror novel “Ride the Bullet” in 2003. The demand for e books was very low such that companies like Barnes and Noble and Gemster closed their online shop (Marie, 110). The clarity of words in e- books was first achieved in 2004. In 2007 Amazon.com an online book retailer released kindle for American market. Books on Board was the first online store to sell e-books meant for IPhone. Since then, the interest in e-books has raisedsignificantly. The number of e-book users continues to expand. Advances in technology has enhanced e-books sector making it a force to reckon with as sources of knowledge (Marie 18)
Role of E-Books in Impacting Education
One of the major roles played by e-books is providing support to 21stcentury libraries by advancing their vision and mission statement (Rosy 228). The vision that cuts across these libraries is to become global information hubs through e-books. E-books provide a more efficient way of organizing and storing information as opposed to print books which are subject to wear and tear as they progress in age. Print books are also affected by limitations of space which is the case with many libraries all over the world. Onecomputer can be used to store thousands of e-books and their accessibility 24 hours 7days a week (Rosy 67). E- Books also give users updated content and unlimited availability.
This is one of the factors that make these collections to be accesses frequently than paper book collections. Many libraries are driving towards zero paper books. Examples of big libraries already involved in this migration include: National Library of Korea with380,000 digitized books,626 computers and 116 million pieces of content that is digital, Bibliotheca Alexandrina and Bibliotheque National de France. Research institutions have not been left behind either. The leading institutions are Harvard University, University of Cambridge, Yale University, Imperial College London, university of Oxford among others.
Another major role played by E- books is assisting in the process of teaching, instructing and learning. Every semester, university students are required to buy many books for use with the registered courses. Most of these books are however relevant to that course only. Most of these books end up being disposed at the end of the semester. E- Books provide an effective solution to this problem of rampant wastage of resources. Research shows that special features in e-books like bookmarking, glossaries, annotating and highlighting improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the books by making them user friendly(Simon 89).
The Benefits of E-Books
E-books have an advantage over print books in that they can be used by the disabled and the elderly. A disabled user can access books easily on e-reader with just a tap on the screen. It is easier for those without limbs as opposed to flipping of pages as in the case of printed books.The Impact of Electronic Books on Education Physical carrying of these books may be tiring and may also inconvenience users who live far away from the bookshop or library. With e-books they can enjoy their favorite collections from the comfort of their homes. For the elderly, the font size can be adjusted to match their eyesight. These two groups form a market segment that has not been tapped.
Another benefit that e-books have is that they cost much cheaper to produce and publish. Publishing houses are quite expensive and use more time. An e-book writer is not limited by these costs and can therefore afford to update already published e-books and have resources to write others. This maintains the updated content of e-books. E-books are used for educational purposes because they allow for preparation of online tutorials and e-notes (Marie 36).This may act as a student motivation to learn more and provides opportunities for extensive learning. For example the hyperlinks available allow for provision of extra information that is within the eBooks. It is like having an assortment of digital book on various subjects.
E- Books can be translated into various languages instantly which make them available in real time. To translate print books into other languages would require extra resources.in the 21st century globalization has allowed people to move from their home countries and cultures to travel to other countries in search of the best education that institutions like universities can offer. Language barrier is one of the major factors that can interrupt the learning process(Simon 41)Translation of content into a language the user can understand enhances learning.
The Impact of Electronic Books on Education The same concept is applied in distant learning. The fact that e-books can be created in various formats enhances their user friendliness. For example e-books can be configured in plain text, Open electronic Package,PDF,Hyper Text mark up and others. PDF is the most secure format (Rosy 52). E-books also have passwords to protect them from unauthorised access. This enhances their safety.
Challenges facing E-books
One of the main challenges facing e-books and which is hindering people from embracing them is incompatibility (Simon17). Software companies have developed technology that is incompatible amongst them. One of the factors that will ensure the success of e-books is standardization of the format. This will ensure that they can be accessed by all users and can also be accessed by many users at the same time (Marie 106).
The other challenge is that academic institutions are not totally responsible for running the resources on e- books but amateurs are sometimes in charge .This reduces the quality of the content. E books are more likely to be faced with quality control issues than print books. This is because they do not go through the rigorous process of ascertaining the authority of the content and visual friendliness. Most complains on e-book touch on the readability of the screen. The complaint is usually that the screen is not readable. Copyright issues also pose a major threat to e-book resources. Restrictions placed delay the updating of websites and storing e-books. This contributes to dilution of content. The fact that e-Books are available in various formats makes standardization quite difficult.
This is because the suppliers of e-books do not operate with the same rule books as their printing counterparts. They have different approaches towards maintenance of safety to avoid copying of these books (Marie 53). Encryption of e books interferes with the user friendliness of the e- book. A user would be more comfortable if they enjoyed with e-books the same features that they enjoy with printbooks. For example lending, replacing or even printing the book to make it easier to carry around and to allow extended reading. There needs to be in place a copyright protection system. Measures should be put in place to ensure that negotiation of licence is done.
The other challenge is cost. I have discussed earlier that the advantage e-books have over print books is that they are cheap. The cost that is being discussed in this paragraph is not eth cost of publishing a book but the cost of moving a library from print books to e- books. High cost is something that should be considered in great details. With e books infrastructure and overheads are minimal but there are other costs incurred in the implementation phase.
These costs include; the cost of purchasing the e-books, hardware and software necessary to run the system, setting up services like the net library and payment of the access fees.The Impact of Electronic Books on Education The devices are also prone to become obsolete with time and contingency measures have to be in place to ensure regular updating. In some cases libraries will have to buy replacements which will also result to additional costs.
The final challenge is that e-books are dependent on a device while print books are independent. This poses a challenge in trying to incorporate the e-books with the routines that are already in place (Simon 91).librarians need to shed light and provide guidance on how e-books should be acquired. The guidelines should provide information that sheds light on how e- books integrate with other resources, persistence in network and content and user friendliness. E-books should be compatible with the existing infrastructure.
Future Trends in Electronic Books
E book publishers have their work cut out in a bid to satisfy loyal print book users. They have a long way to go in wooing them to embrace e-books. Technologically, many academic libraries and research institutions are committed to the digital migration. Theircommitment is guided by the need to develop e- book access via the web. Many scholars believe that the future of learning lies in electronic books. The devices supporting e-books will be under competition on which one should be adopted.
These devices are personal computers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), laptops and the dedicated readers. Currently, competition is between the dedicated reader and PDA’s (Rosy 96).Palm OS and Pocket PC are more popular with reading of articles than the dedicated reader. The market of e-books and the dedicated reader is still uncertain. Research and development is committed to dealing with some of these problems to improve newer models functionality. Technology will support the evolution of e- book in the short term while content will drive it to the long-term.
In conclusion, the internet has turned the internet into a global virtual library. With characteristicslike easy accessibility, wide content learning materials can be easily accessed. These books provide basic knowledge on unaccustomed topics and background research. By examining the role e-books play in education, assessing their advantages, disadvantages and commenting on the future. It is clear that e-books have a major impact in education.They are just but an example of how technology has transformed the learning process. Research and innovation should be a priority so that some of the challenges affecting full adaptation of e-books can be addressed.
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