Wheelers eBooks @Kewhslibrary

So we’ve finally managed to get our eBooks up and running at Kew High School. Thanks to our ICT guys and the Wheelers’ crew, our students can log in using their school credentials. We’re only starting small at the moment, with a big push beginning in term 1.

I’ve made this video, along with our AV Coordinator Huu Tran, to show students how they can download eBooks from our collection using their mobile device.

eBooks for school libraries

Finally, my Storify on the fabulous ASLA Tasmania eBook conference for school llibraries held on Friday 12th April in Hobart.

Hope you find the information and links useful. Thanks to ASLA Tasmania and presenters for a great and informative day.

Penguin Teachers’ Academy

I was very excited and proud to be asked by the lovely Tye Cattanach to deliver the full day professional learning event for Penguin Teachers’ Academy on Friday 8 March in Melbourne.

I’ll be presenting on innovative reading and book promotion techniques using ICT and will focus on:

  • The Readers’ Cup – a free reading competition for Victorian schools
  • Book promotion and sharing students’ responses to text using ICT
  • eBooks. How we’re using eBooks at Kew High School
It is $120 for the full day, which is a bargain in my opinion. If you are interested, you can access more information and the booking form here. Also have a look at the day run by Corrie Barclay on ICT for Primary literacy at the same link.


eBook update

A while back on my to-do list, I mentioned that eBooks of some sort were on our horizon at school. After 18 months of research, debate, throwing hands up in the air in despair, presentations from vendors, school-based surveys and talking to others we decided to buy three Kindles to trial.

Although we’ve just gone 1:1 in years 9 and 1o and we wanted students to be able to read eBooks on their Dell tablet, we couldn’t find a solution that fitted financially and technically.

So the minute I got the go ahead to try some Kindles, I raced to the car and down to the local retailer. We decided to make the Kindles genre-based and each has a different colour cover.

So we began with:

  • scifi/fantasy (Hunger Games, etc)
  • classics and relationships
  • mystery/thrillers

Each Kindle has about 30 books. Students are allowed to borrow for two weeks, the same period as other library books, however a signed form from home has to be submitted before borrowing. There’s been a few interesting results…

  1. A boy who read Pride and prejudice since it was on the Kindle. He wouldn’t have ever borrowed a copy, but he said he actually enjoyed reading it.
  2. A non-reader had his nose stuck in the Kindle during a reading lesson and was desperate to borrow it!

 So far so good. The challenge will be to keep promoting them.

On a different note, I bought a Kindle for my 9 year old niece. She’s addicted to it and has read 14 books in two weeks. Some of the books had 400 odd pages, so another success. I like that the Kindle is just for reading and there’s no distractions like when I read on the iPad.

Creating infographic on school eBook survey

Thanks to Fran Bullington‘s post on infographics, I decided to have a play and try to put the data from an eBook survey I had administered (gosh, I sound like a doctor or some type of medical person) earlier in the year. Here’s my first up attempt, I know it looks a little sparse, but here it is anyway…

I’d been looking for a way to create infographics for a while and came across two solutions in one day. The other site is easel.ly.  I think these could be a great way for us to teach our students a new way of presenting data. Let me know what you think.

So how’s that ‘to do list’ going?

You may (or may not) remember I wrote a post back in early February about what I wanted to achieve at school this year. I wrote that I wanted to:

  • Ereader survey for school website
  • Diigo for subjects, link to wiki
  • Pininterest for new books and topics?
  • Twitter/fb?
  • Book blog using posterous? Add book trailers. Use that URL for QR code new books there too
  • Podcasts for wiki
  • EBooks
  • QR codes for fiction
  • Add list of useful apps to wiki
  • Douchey’s podcasts for wiki biology page
  • Readers Cup. Do at years 7-8 and 9-10
  • Link blogs to Twitter using Twitterfeed
  • Investigate Overdrive with a visit to Jenny Luca’s school
So how did I fare?
  1. Ereader survey for school website. Yes I did get this survey out to students, parents and staff. It was overwhelmingly positive in terms of the availability of eReading devices. Many students and parents wanted to be able to access eBooks. Staff, not so much.
  2. Diigo for subjects, link to wiki. Yes I’ve got the Diigo account up and running for school. It’s been useful so far, but I am putting more items on the school eLibrary wiki than on Diigo at the moment.
  3. Pininterest for new books and topics? I did sign up for a school Pininterest and stating adding some great stuff for art and reading. However, after reading Phil Bradley’s blog post, I deleted the account due to worries about copyright infringement and basically being a poor digital citizenship role model to our students.
  4. Twitter/fb? I set up a Twitter account for school and have some student followers. This has also helped develop relationships with our local public library and other local services. I went to a Facebook PD for schools, but as long as all Facebook comments need post-moderation, I cannot see our school going for Facebook.
  5. Book blog using posterous? Add book trailers. Use that URL for QR code new books there too. I started a book blog using Posterous. I would love students to email in their book reviews to share to others. This should begin happening soon as our year 9s and 10s are receiving their 1:1 tablets today.
  6. Podcasts for wiki. I’ve been adding some podcasts to the wiki, like the ones the ABC Radio does for VCE texts.
  7. EBooks. We’ve looked into eBooks with several presentations from vendors. We’re not suited to a subscription model, so we’ll wait a little longer to see how we can go about this. We want and need eBooks!
  8. QR codes for fiction. I’ve been adding QR codes to fiction books to link to book trailers and again as per point 5, students will begin creating their own book trailers and linked QR codes to be placed on books for peer recommendations.
  9. Add list of useful apps to wiki. There has been a link to apps for Bloom’s, but I need to add more.
  10. Douchey’s podcasts for wiki biology page. Yes, these have been added.
  11. Readers Cup. Do at years 7-8 and 9-10. I haven’t been able to get a full scale competition happening at school (it is hard when you’re 0.4), I do have entrants for the State Finals in November.
  12. Link blogs to Twitter using Twitterfeed. Yes, all blog posts now automatically feed to Twitter.
  13. Investigate Overdrive with a visit to Jenny Luca’s school. See point 7.
I’ve also added lots of videos and links to the wiki to support learning and have had a number of teachers comment about its usefulness. The stats are very encouraging too.
I’ve continued writing the school cybersafety blog with 5 posts per week.
I’ve also been running lots of professional learning sessions on using the tablets to support learning, differentiated learning and OneNote sessions.
So all in all, things are on track and I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far. Thanks to my wonderful Principal for supporting all of my forays into social media on behalf of the school!

eBook investigations

One of the things on my 2012 to do list was to investigate eBooks for our library. So far I’ve:

  • sent out a survey to students, teachers and parents asking if they have access to eReaders of any type, if they’ve used eBooks before, etc.
  • invited Wheelers, Bolinda, and Jenny Luca (who’ll be talking about her experience as a teacher librarian using Overdrive) and FollettShelf to a network meeting that will be held in Melbourne tomorrow.
  • Asked ReadCloud to demonstrate how we might use their social reading software with our year 9s and 10s who will be receiving a Dell XT3 (tablet and laptop in one) shortly.
FollettShelf cannot attend our meeting tomorrow, but I recorded a demo and Q & A with their Asia/Pacific rep Tim Ramsey last Friday. Some of the questions I asked were:
  • Group pricing, whether for consortia access or simultaneous users ?
  • Which publishers do you have?
  • Fiction and/or non fiction
  • Audiobooks too?
  • Do we own the books?
  • What happens to the books if we don’t renew our agreement with you?
  • Which platforms do you support?
  • Which platforms don’t you support?
  • Pricing as compared to physical books
  • Early return?
  • Set borrowing periods/limits
  • Australian content?
FollettShelf video 1: eBooks and setup

FollettShelf video2: ordering eBooks

FollettShelf video 3: demo of iPad apps – Follett digital reader and Catalist digital audiobooks

FollettShelf video 4 Q & A

If you’d like to contact Tim Ramsey from FollettShelf, you can email him at tramsey@fint.follett.com or arrange a Skype session (tramsey7). As he is located in Japan, our timezones in Australia are quite similar.

Thanks so much to Stacey Taylor, Carmel Galvin and Jenny Luca for passing on vendors, links, etc.

Library to do list 2012

So I returned to work yesterday and very pleased to be back. I have a lot of things on my to do list this year and now I’m 0.4, I’ve got more of a chance of achieving them. So here goes:

Ereader survey for school website
Diigo for subjects, link to wiki
Pininterest for new books and topics?
Book blog using posterous? Add book trailers. Use that URL for QR code new books there too
Podcasts for wiki
QR codes for fiction
Add list of useful apps to wiki
Douchey’s podcasts for wiki biology page
Readers Cup. Do at years 7-8 and 9-10
Link blogs to Twitter using Twitterfeed
Investigate Overdrive with a visit to Jenny Luca’s school

This is above and beyond what will be required of me in terms of providing professional learning for staff. The good news is that the Heads of Library and English support the idea of the Readers Cup wholeheartedly; the Principal agreed to a library Twitter account and I’ve started that as well as a book and reading blog and Diigo account. I’ve linked the blogs to Twitterfeed and Diigo via Packratius. I’m pleased with my progress considering we had meetings until 2.30pm yesterday and I don’t return to work until Monday.

I’m also really pleased how supportive the admin are and most teachers seemed genuinely pleased to be back. I’m looking forward to what else might appear on my radar in 2012. I wonder what it might be? What’s on your 2012 to do list?

Making reading inconvenient

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with this statement. In fact, I couldn’t be more opposed to it. With all of the media options available to children, young adults and adults, we need to make reading more convenient, not less. Books and eBooks are competing against social media, online and console gaming, video streaming, video downloading and YouTube, podcasting, radio, television and more.

Time, of course, is limited. Reading and books have to compete for people’s time. So who wants to make reading inconvenient? Maja Thomas, a senior VP at Hachette (USA I assume). In a New York Times article published on Christmas Day entitled “Publishers vs. Libraries: An E-Book Tug of War”, the idea of public libraries lending eBooks to its patrons seems to be totally against (some) publishers’ policies.

Borrowing a printed book from the library imposes an inconvenience upon its patrons. “You have to walk or drive to the library, then walk or drive back to return it,” says Maja Thomas, a senior vice president of the Hachettte Book Group, in charge of its digital division.

To keep their overall revenue from taking a hit from lost sales to individuals, publishers need to reintroduce more inconvenience for the borrower or raise the price for the library purchaser.

To me, this misses the point entirely. In fact, it’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in a while. If reading is too inconvenient, people will select another, more convenient entertainment option. And what will publishers do then? And where does this leave school libraries?

Kobo no-show now no-go

Over a year ago, I started downloading eBooks for their ease of use; having a library with you when travelling without the weight or awkwardness of a pile of books was brilliant. Having a book in my possession moments after reading a great review was another bonus. Over the time, I’ve used the Kobo, Kindle and iBooks apps, all pretty much without incident.

Until this week.

I’ve been taking my iPad to the gym to read, it’s ideal for using on the treadmill as pages stay open (unlike a traditional book) and there’s a ledge on the treadmill that’s just perfect for it. But upon opening the Kobo app, several of my books had disappeared; including one that I was in the middle of. Kindle to the rescue for the moment and I was able to read something from that app. I went home and looked more deeply into the problem. Kobo issued a statement through the app explaining the problem and how to fix it.

It didn’t work for me. I updated my iOS, updated Kobo app. Reloaded library from website. No deal. The books just wouldn’t load from website to app. After several hours of faffing around, I sent an email to the Kobo help centre. I waited a while, giving Kobo time to reply, seeing that we’re in different timezones. Nothing. I tweeted. Nothing.

Days later, still silence. I retried all of the suggested steps. Still no deal. I went to the settings on the iPad and decided to use an advanced setting “clear all local data”.

Set "clear local data" to on

Set "clear local data" to on

Upon opening the Kobo app, I needed to sign in and my library was totally empty. It was like I was using the app for the first time. However, once signed in, all of my books started to load. Yes, all of them. This step was not mentioned in any of Kobo help information.

A quick Google search today shows that there are plenty of people around the world having issues with Kobo customer service. My gripe is twofold:

  1. You expect to be able to read the books you’ve paid for when you want to.
  2. You expect some customer service for items you’ve paid for. I’ve had none.

The other thing that worries me is that as a teacher librarian, we’re pushing on with eBooks in schools and trying to convince the naysayers that they’re the future.

Issues like those I’ve had are not going to win eBooks any fans. And I can just hear the naysayers saying things like “that’d never happen with a real book!” And they’re right. For the public as a whole to take on eBooks as a default requires issues like these to be non-existant. Or fixed quickly.

I certainly won’t be recommending Kobo to anyone, let along buying anymore of their titles. I will stick with the Kindle and iBooks apps though, as I’ve not had any problems with them. It’s a shame as personally I preferred the layout and screen view of Kobo.