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Friday News: BN and Microsoft; Google Settles with Publishers; Hachette discounting...

This release is not without its missteps. Someone at B&N or Microsoft forgot to do a little due diligence. Nook Media, website and twitter handle, are owned and used by Stockholm based developer of online gambling casinos.  Perhaps B&N/MS who has yet to name Newco, the company that owns the Nook Media subsidiary, can figure out a new name. B&N and The Digital Reader

“The settlement acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright-holders. U.S. publishers can choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project. Those deciding not to remove their works will have the option to receive a digital copy for their use.

Google Books allows users to browse up to 20% of books and then purchase digital versions through Google Play. Under the agreement, books scanned by Google in the Library Project can now be included by publishers.”Press Release

One thing that this sort of program highlights, however, is the disparity in learning between schools that have and schools that do not have. It seems to me that publicly funded schools should provide an equal level of learning for every child no matter the school district.   The Austin Texas program was funded by bond money earmarked for educational technology. I’m not certain what the solution is to the technological divide but one must come in order for all kids to have a fair chance and a world class education. The Digital Shift

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. SAO
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 05:24:57

    Technology is only as good as the apps. I haven’t found great educational apps on the iPad. For math, there seems to be some stuff I haven’t evaluated at the college level and lots of addition drill, but middle school math is missing.

    My high school, back in the dark ages before computers, had this half-room sized machine that had a great resume for how it would advance student learning. There were few lessons designed for it, it was boring as hell, and never used.

  2. ~Lisa
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 06:20:17

    my children’s school has implemented ipads. I’m far from impressed. Instead of passing notes it’s slipping emails back and forth, parental permission slips now include the school wanting to post kids on youtube, and the list goes on. there are however a lot of cool game time waster aps for free evidently.

    Cool tech bandaid on declining substance in ed. The arguments that this is the future–well, I have yet to meet a teenager that doesn’t figure out how to text, take pictures, surf the web on their phone, etc doesn’t take to gaming consoles, tablets, computers fairly easily. I sure as heck know a lot that can’t spell to save their lives, have very poor grasp of history and critical thinking. If the *substance* isn’t there, in the curriculum then how cool the app is isn’t going to fix that, and the substance even at the best schools is going straight down the toilet. If you can’t spell, well then there’s spellcheck (never mind how poor a job that can do). If you can’t add, there’s a calculator. I’ve argued with my children and taken calculators away in 4th and 5th grade, check your work with the calculator, do not do your work with the calculator “But we use them in class at school!”

    I guess I’m a mean old bat with a case of get off my lawn, but “concepts” that the tech does for the kid? Isn’t teaching and isn’t learning, 99% of kids won’t put in a bit more effort than necessary to get a good down to passing grade, pending on the kid. Concepts & cool tech mean nothing if you can’t do anything when your batteries die. Ereaders? Cheap ereader that has just enough to support pictures and highlights? Absolutely, that would be awesome rather than the 50lbs of books so many have to carry, but no, not at all a fan of the latest cool education trend that is shiny tech.

  3. Nadia Lee
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 06:45:31

    @~Lisa: I have to agree with you. I don’t think an iPad or a computer can teach a kid history, proper English composition or math or anything like that. I think technology should be secondary that supports the core learning, not become the core learning.

  4. Jane
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 07:02:27

    @Nadia Lee: My kid has iPads in her school and they use it a lot to do everything from math drills (flashcards and math games) to recording them reading aloud which is then listened to by the teacher on a weekly basis to measure the kid’s reading level.

    They used Google Earth to study the difference between population density between areas of the country in learning about communities as well as using the maps to discuss linear measurements. I guess it depends on how the technology is used in schools. I’ve never had the tot come home with request to make youtube videos.

  5. AH
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 08:35:50

    There is definitely a place for technology in the schools. Properly supervised, children can learn all sorts of things and create wonderful presentations. The key word is SUPERVISED. The internet is a scary place and children need to understand that whatever they do has a digital footprint.
    The other problem is accessibility. Not every school/family can afford these devices and they get outdated rapidly.
    I also think that no technology replaces a good, enthusiastic teacher. Kudos to all the teachers out there for doing a great job.

  6. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 08:47:04

    I was ambivalent about the iPad program at my kids’ elementary school. They weren’t doing anything groundbreaking with them because they don’t have to, as they drill, drill, drill in the hard-core subjects like it’s a private school. There are a coupleof stripped-down arithmetic applications. They learned how to shut down the other programs to save battery life (w00t!)! There’s little left an iPad can offer that they don’t already have/do. My son already uses mine to watch his weird shows and videos on Youtube, play Minecraft, do the art thing and Garageband (he’s 6). They don’t do any of that at school. But I didn’t really care (though I thought the money could’ve been better spent, but whatevs)…

    Until the iPad1 was not able to get the iOS6 update. Then I got a little upset about it. I sent an email to the principal (because I didn’t know who else to send it to) and suggested that money could have been better spent on Android tablets that were open-source and cheaper enough that a 2-year amortization wouldn’t hurt so much. I also pointed out that each iPad could have paid for a laptop, which would have had more true functional value as both a teaching tool and a vocational tool, particularly when, as SAO said, good apps just aren’t there.

    We have an ancient netbook we bought used off eBay years ago for about $150 and now my daughter (9) uses that and is totally uninterested in the iPad either at home or at school. It fulfills far more learning needs for her than any tablet ever will.

    So…I am not a fan because the cost:benefit ratio is too high.

  7. Ridley
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 09:25:10

    I still can’t do simple math in my head thanks to a middle school teacher who let us use calculators. In fact, kids from my Catholic school were notorious among the teachers at the city high school for being shit at math.

    Can’t help but wonder what effect Google has on today’s middle schoolers.

  8. ~Lisa
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 09:30:37

    @Jane: I will point out one key word there, tot. My kids are high school and junior high, youngest is upper elementary.

    There are cool flashcard apps, yes, google earth is a fun toy in addition to actual substance. My youngest is autistic and has been using the ipad in the sped room for a couple years now with a lot of success, though, he is limited in his abilities and it suits the way his mind works. What I’m seeing with my older children, amounts to the teachers got a cool new toy to play with, and the kids got a distraction. When substance is already thin a shiny new toy is not a solution.

    Add in the factors of 1 strike lose the ipad for the quarter (caught downloading/playing games–game purchased /dl’d after school ours but still on school owned device– in class putting m rated game on ipad, googling boobs in study hall–yes my 16yo daughter came home rolling her eyes about classmate that lost the ipad for that–and trying to put half or more the assignments to pass requiring Ipad, Catch 22 with that, because the kid is going to fail the quarter then. At least two teachers for my high school junior have set their entire curriculum/lesson plans around the ipad and what can be done exclusively on it, very little for those classes not done on ipad.

    I agree with Moriah, the cost compared to the benefit, is not justifiable. At least a laptop or netbook could revoke the internet access on that machine at school, and still be able to use the machine for actual school work. When the seeming majority of apps require net connection to even function, revoking net access for misbehavior/abuse of priveleges is impossible without taking the whole device away, including what is necessary for class.

  9. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 09:45:10

    @~Lisa: Heh. Anecdote: My son is learning how to mix, pour, and form concrete via YouTube. He now shouts at some of the people on DIY shows that “That’s not the way Mike Holmes does it!” He loves watching dump trucks, backhoes, and trash trucks on YT. I turned on the iPad one day and found this in the YT search: “makeing concerite.”

    This? This is valuable. The rest…not so much.

  10. aislin
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 10:48:06

    Something I know most people don’t know or consider is how funds are disbursed to and within school districts. Schools aren’t just given great gobs of money every year to do with as they see fit, rather on top of having to rationalize every penny they spend of their normal budget, if they want shiny new things like laptops or iPads (and sometimes even books) they have to set up a proposal/grant and submit it to the appropriate place. Most grant/proposal bits are very type specific. In other words, the money they disburse can only be used for specific things be it math or science or technology. And the grant you write will probably get turned down at least twice for not being specific enough in how whatever it is you want to buy will be used with kids. That money doesn’t accumulate year after year in most cases either. You either use it up before the end of the school year or it’s gone. So if one year the school doesn’t need any new computers and they have a lot of money left in that pool they might try and use it to buy iPads in order to not lose that money.

  11. Deb
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 11:09:30

    Not that I regularly read HuffPo, but there is an article in there about Arne Duncan wanting to move everyone to digitized textbooks. Of all of my gripes with public education, this is one of my biggest. This doesn’t work without connectivity, including connectivity in the home. I live in Boston; believe me, there are thousands of kids who don’t live in homes that are hooked up. I don’t know who this helps other than telcos.

  12. Las
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 12:50:30

    I really don’t get the Lena Dunham thing. I saw two episodes of her show and was bored out of my mind, and everything I’ve read about her makes her sound just as boring. She’s the emperor with no clothes for me. What am I missing?

  13. hapax
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 13:36:00

    I am hardly a tech-advocate in the schools; indeed, I am practically a Luddite. (And don’t give me a reason to crank up my rant on How PowerPoint Destroyed the Brains of an Entire Generation!)

    But nonetheless, I *have* seen excellent applications for high-quality digital access at the middle-school / high school level. Algebra II and Geometry classes which integrate graphing functions and CAD to help students visualize what the equations are actually *doing*. Biology classes which offer digital “dissections” with much greater variety and clarity and less expense and animal cruelty. History classes which integrate online tours of the interiors of pyramids, detailed examinations of medieval documents from the British Library, rare photos from the U.S. Civil War, and recordings of Jazz Age musicians.

    I understand the cost/benefit problem, and the dangers of leaving children in “have-not” schools behind. But research has demonstrated that many children do not benefit as much from text-based education as we like to think.

  14. Sunny
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 13:47:40

    I’m still boggling that entire schools are getting a 1:1 ratio of ipads while the schools just a little further down the road can’t afford shelves for their library, so the books (all donated) are in piles around the edges of the room. Honestly, the sheer unfairness of it all hurts my heart.

  15. Anne V
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 14:03:36

    @Deb: I’ve been auditing an organic chemistry class for a friend (long story) and they’re using an e-textbook. The interactive stuff around carbon bonding is fantastic – really, REALLY useful. The e-textbook for Molecular Biology of the Cell is astonishingly good. MBoC is a classic anyway, but the animations are truly extraordinary and very helpful. The e-texbooks aren’t dependent on connectivity unless you’re updating – they can be downloaded and installed that way, which is just as well, given the file size. That said, my friend has been printing out some of the material because of eye fatigue on the iPad.

    How well iPads work in the classroom is a combination of the apps and the instructor’s ability to teach from digital resources and the learning style of the student.

  16. Deb
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 14:38:26

    @Anne V, I’m assuming this is an advanced, post-secondary class? I can see where ed tech can be useful, but mandating that all of it be moved to an electronic device, for K-12, doesn’t seem to be supported by any research. If I thought we had dragged all of the functionality out of books that we could and kids were still running into walls, I might be in favor. But I don’t see that as what’s going on, and not when my little ones were in school. (We homeschool now.)

    Never seen Girls- 0 interest.

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