May 2010 Archives

Final Portfolio---Ever!

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Welcome to my last blogging portfolio for Topics in Media and Culture: The History and the Future of the Book!  In fact, it is my last blogging portfolio ever!  Although this makes me a little less happy than I thought it would, it is nice to be able to showcase my accomplishments during the last third of the semester.  I have included some of the blogs I wrote for class, some that I wrote for other classes, and finally, a blog about my final paper.  I hope you enjoy it!


-Topics in Media and Culture blogs:


I Really Don't Get What the Big Deal Is:  In this blog, I discuss my initial reactions to the Memex as well as my thoughts about Michael K. Buckland’s essay “Emanuel Goldberg, Electronic Document Retrieval, And Vannevar Bush's Memex”


Will iPads, nooks, or Kindles be a Common Sight in Classrooms of the (Not So Distant) Future?: Here, I discuss my thoughts about eBook readers in future classrooms, as well as my experiences with them.  


eBook Readers and the Future of Education: This blog that made up part of my creative presentation is based on some of the ideas in the previous blog, so take a look at my thought process.



-This section based a project that my Senior Seminar class created.  Take a look at what I gained from it, as well as what others learned:


My Visit with Margie


Seniors Helping Seniors


-This is a blog about my final paper for Topics in Media and Culture


Text as Art: An Examination of the Development of Typography and a Dualistic Analysis of Text


Take a look at what others have done this semester

Text as Art

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For my final paper, I was inspired by the calligrams I had learned about in a course called Islam: Religion and Culture and by one of Chelsea’s creative projects where she introduced her ideas to us by showing us a piece of artwork by Stephanie Wytovich.  Chelsea related artwork to text, which made me wonder why text never seems to be viewed as art.  At first, I was so excited about the topic that I had a very broad focus.  I thought about researching everything from hieroglyphs to emoticons.  However, as I began my research, I decided to focus on the development of typography and how it allows text to be viewed as artwork.  I discussed early typography from the medieval era and calligrams from the Islamic traditions, moved on to print calligrams and George Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” and discussed how this development would relate to the development of current typographic texts in film and kinetic typography and the development of text in the future.  Although the research process was somewhat difficult because there are not very many people who have written about this topic specifically, it was rewarding because I was able to link ideas about the four stages of communication which we discussed in this class to an idea that I was developing based on research, but extending beyond current research.  I think that I was able to successfully synthesize what we have discussed in class with my own research interests to create an interesting and academic paper.  



eBook Readers and the Future of Education

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After experiencing the Kindle, I was inspired by this technology to research it a bit more.  This research got me wondering, what is the future going to look like with eBooks in it?  I think that anyone who has studied the development of books over a semester like I have could tell you that eBooks will definitely be a major part of the future of communication.  Will they replace physical books?  As I have seen throughout the semester, none of the forms of communication are ever replaced, just reworked and developed.  If you would like to read more about this development from me, my classmates, or critical authors, take a look at our blogs.  The real question that needs to be answered, however, is how will eBooks have to develop to meet our needs? 


One major way that they will have to develop in relationship to my own field of education, and I am sure in relationship to many other fields as well, is in the presentation of the texts.  Right now, the Kindle, the Sony Readers, and the nook seem to have very basic features when it comes to the presentation aspects of their products.  These areas include color, text and format issues, and reader capabilities that need to be addressed before they can be conducive to use with young children.  If you are interested in reading more about these subjects, follow the links below.


ROYGBIV Isn’t Just about Looking Pretty


Text Standardization, but What Does It Mean?


But Teacher, Aren’t We Supposed to Share?


Of course, these companies may not be especially concerned with offering products to this specific target market.  However, if I were these companies, I would definitely begin to think about how to market my products to these target audiences.  Also, the needs that I discussed are not necessarily needs of only educators and children, but may be very important to other groups.  If I were Amazon, Sony, or Barnes and Noble, I would be thinking about these developments (as I am sure they are) before LeapFrog develops its own eBook reader that will appeal much more to parents and educators than these standardized and text-heavy eBook readers do.


Looking for more information about the eBook readers in the classroom?  Check out these links.


“E-Books in Higher Education: Nearing the End of the Era of Hype?”Although two years old, this article from Mark R. Nelson and EDUCAUSE has interesting ideas for educators, even if they are not post-secondary educators.


3 Reasons eBook Readers Should Be a Part of Every Education”This may be just a blog with personal opinions, but isn’t that what every blog is? Sevastian Winters has great reasons for included eBook Readers in the classroom. 


Amazon, eBooks, and Teaching Texts: Getting to the "Knowing How" of Reading Literature”—If you’re not crazy about non-fact based opinions, take a look at this essay by Barbara G. Pace from CITE (Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education).  Although this essay is a bit older than the other two, it is scholarly and peer reviewed.




Use the technology yourself!  Google “Education and eBook readers,” and you will find many opinions for and against their use in the classroom.  You could even try them out like I did, see how you feel about it, and leave a comment here.   

But Teacher, Aren't We Supposed to Share?

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One of the other major issues with eBook readers is that once a book is bought, it cannot be shared.  The only reader that offers these capabilities (at least according to my basic research) is the nook, which allows you to share your books with friends for up to 14 days at a time.  This is a critical element that is necessary in classrooms where funding is limited and where picture book libraries offer important supplements to the curriculum.  Yes, free copies of books in the public domain are available, but few of these are picture books or books for young people.


This idea of sharing brings up many other questions too.  For instance, what are libraries going to do?  Barnes and Noble offers free in-store access to reading, but this technology is not yet available to libraries.  One benefit may eventually be no more late books, but not unless libraries are given or develop a way to loan eBooks to patrons.  Also, how many friends can share the same book at a time?  These are all issues that will have to be addressed as eBooks develop.


Read more.

Text Standardization, but What Does It Mean?

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As I explored the Kindle as well as the websites for the other eBook readers, I noticed that they all seemed to have the same, generic text in their advertisements.  I don’t mean they all said the same thing, I mean the typeface itself was identical or similar for all three readers that I have been discussing.  To explore this a bit more, I returned to the Kindle viewer for the PC. 


What I found was surprising, but I understand why it occurs.  I found that the text of each book usually became the same typeface.  This standardization allows for easy transfer, but part of the experience could be lost because of this.  More disquieting, however, was the fact that when font sizes were changed by those who format the text before it is received, words from one page will move onto another, making words and the pictures that are supposed to accompany them on separate pages.  When children’s literature, or any literature with pictures, is considered, this is not only annoying, but also detrimental to allowing for (especially in the case of children) the display of appropriate meanings. 


Yes, having clearly printed and readable text as the advertisements for all three of these readers suggests is really great, but what happens when the author wants a certain typeface that is not compatible with the readers?  And, what happens when the reader needs to increase the text size, forcing some of the text onto another blank page when what the text is describing is on the page before.  Standardization and the ability to increase text size are valuable, but not at the expense of manipulating the pictures and pages of the book.


Read more. 

ROYGBIV Isn't Just about Looking Pretty

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Right now, the Kindle, the Sony Reader (take your pick of which one), and the nook do not have color screens.  Although the nook boasts a small color touch screen for choosing book titles, none of them can show color displays within the books.  As a future elementary teacher, this makes me wonder about how eBooks will translate into the classroom.  Color is a primary aspect of children’s books, especially picture books.  In fact, the pictures sometimes tell the story more than the words do, which is a problem when the eBook readers only provide grayscale displays.


To test out the difference, I downloaded the Kindle viewer for the PC.  It was great because I could sample various texts without buying them, just as one would in a store.  However, I immediately noticed that the Curious George book I had chosen was only in black and white.  If anyone is familiar with these books, they know that, although these books are not filled with color, certain colors such as red and yellow are emphasized.  For instance, Curious George’s owner, The Man in the Yellow Hat, has a yellow hat in the books.  When I read this book on the Kindle viewer for the PC, the hat is a darkish sort of gray.  I tried other books, and it is true that the PC Kindle viewer allows for color viewing, but it seems that some of the formatters did not transfter the color that is found in the books to the files, as in the case of the Curious George book at which I looked.  Still, the devices themselves do not offer color viewing--yet. 


When pictures are such a major part of the story as they are for children’s books, it is important that the pictures are accurate, or meaning will be lost.  It would almost be like leaving out words or making certain ones unreadable, which would not be accepted by typical consumers of Amazon’s, Sony’s, and Barnes and Noble’s products.  I know these devices were made mainly for people who read novels, but they need to be significantly altered to encourage their use in other fields like education.


Read more.