“Real” books haven’t gone away entirely, but that’s not a bad thing!

“Real” books haven’t gone away entirely, but that’s not a bad thing!

In the midst of conference season we were lucky enough to attend our first International Reading Association (IRA) conference in San Antonio, Texas. What an amazing event, I do believe the extravagance flies just under the radar of ISTE, which we try to have some presence at every year.

While we spent most of our time at our exhibit with our partner Kaplan Early Learning to showcase SAM Animation for digital storytelling, I was able to escape a few times to take a sneak peak around the floor to explore the other exhibitors. And, what amazed me – in light of all the education technology “hype” happening over the last couple of years –is how popular physical books were among conference goers.

Amid the chaos of booths in the exhibit hall, I have to say nearly every booth had some physical display of the ‘ol paperback book. Why is this surprising at an IRA conference? Well, considering the blogs, articles, twitter feeds, and edtech startup trends of 2011-2013, you’d think e-books and tablets were the only way to go at this point in time. It’s refreshing for me, however, to see the reality of that adoption cycle. Personally, I would consider myself a fairly early adopter – yes, I have an iPad to read e-books on, which makes it easier for my travel schedule – but honestly I’d prefer to have the roughness of actual pages in my hands to mark-up and fold.

E-books from an economical standpoint are practical. But, I’m honestly torn because of the authenticity and physical existence that real books provide that truly offers an entirely different experience. This connects back to our integration of crafts/manipulatives with our software/app. Are kids ultimately making movies? Yes, but in the process they are interacting with their hands and the physical space to bridge into the digital world, so ultimately they are still grounded in “touch,” but motivated by the electronics. What if e-books of the future could bridge those worlds… that’s something I’d like to see at IRA 2014!

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