Thursday, January 24, 2013

Adventures with E-books, Part 2: The Positives

After several research projects this year (as you can see from our LibGuides), I am in a much better place to review the e-book platforms we have chosen to play with this year. I am reviewing them from the perspective of the upper school (9th-12th grade) that is in its first year of 1:1 iPads.

The Gale Virtual Reference Library is still a favorite for specialized encyclopedias. E-book reference is really the way to go, and if your reference collection isn't migrating online, it really should be. We also have some ABC CLIO ebooks and I am thinking of adding more, since their databases are also quite popular for introductory research at our school. Our upper schoolers now use the GVRL via the easy to use Gale iPad app, Access My Library. The students download articles as PDF's and highlight and annotate using PDF Expert. GVRL is also popular because the students can copy and paste the citations into NoodleTools.

Ebrary has  really caught on with our upper schoolers because of the scholarly content and fabulous keyword searching. Once the students see how they can use a massive library instantly (78,000 books and growing!), with easy bookmarking,  downloading, highlighting, keyword searching, and an iPad app to read the books offline, they are very happy. The teachers are impressed by the ease of access to quality information. [Update to my previous post, the copying and pasting from the app works beautifully into Evernote and the NoodleTools notecards.] The students also seem happy with the idea of reading the books offline via the app, but I don't know how many have done so. I have to review my ebrary usage statistics - but who has time? I know they are using it - I see them in the library. I will look it over when research season is over. Currently the 10th and 11th graders are using it, and the seniors are about to start.

A couple of students have found e-books in ebrary that we actually cannot access.  I would like to try the Paton Driven Acquisition process soon. Although not officially on my selection policy, I try to buy most of what my community recommends - that day. Sometimes they are even delivered the following day (thank you, Amazon). Those books will at least get used! I'd like to do the same with nonfiction e-books, so that will be my next thing to learn with ebrary, the award winning product that is becoming a favorite (even after all my complaints on the previous post).

Axis 360 hasn't caught on quite as much, because  our kids really enjoy reading in print, as many Americans do. I think that if more popular titles were available, it would be more consistent and students would use it more. Also, since I am not using it for anything curricular, the students are not really forced to learn how to use it. I am saving it mostly for pleasure reading, and some students and faculty are enjoying it, but I'd like a larger affordable selection.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures with e-books, and let me know about your adventures!

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