The Future of Academic Reading – BGSU Discussion

Today I attended a discussion at Bowling Green State University on the future of academic reading.  It was a day long session involving a panel discussion of students and faculty, along with Amy Pawlowski, the Web Applications Manager at the Cleveland Public Library and myself as respondents.

The panelists were mostly upper-class and graduate students, and several faculty/administrators using a variety of devices and tools to read books. Below is a summary of the comments from the panelists.  Consider this a snapshot of individuals, each offering a slightly different perspective on eReading, but with many commonalities.

Some interesting quotes from panelists and audience members:

“I didn’t want my fundamental reading experience to change.  I didn’t want my book to tell me I had email.”

“I covet my print books, I don’t like to break the spine on them.”

“Someone told me to get a nook because I could share my books, why would I want to share?”

“After the students [3rd graders] read books on the iPad, they wanted to keep reading.”

In addition to my summary below of the morning session,  BGSU representatives blogged the discussions.  Those can be found here:

A summary of the panelists comments:

Andy, a faculty member in history:  Started with a SONY 500 – exclusively for recreational reading. Now uses a Kindle 3 – recreational reading and research reading – uses recent books, takes notes and underlines and syncs those with the laptop for his research purposes.  He buys books currently to get books into his workflow.  He reads much more at home in more relaxing places because he can take notes easily.  He doesn’t carry the device everywhere because he carries an iPod touch with the same Kindle app and can sync later.

Chad, an undergrad student:  Kindle – likes the option to see what other people are marking.  It’s a way to have an anonymous conversation with other readers.  Reads mostly classics, likes that they are free and he can own them.  Mostly reads at home, his reading has increased because of the device.  Chad wants every book available in electronic format from the library and wants to use journals and books together with tools like dictionaries accompanying them.  He envisions downloading library ebooks from his library account (i.e. the catalog) at BGSU.

Kristine, a grad student:  Reads mostly PDFs electronically and uses the iPad in 3rd grade classrooms.  She finds it very adaptable and it serves multiple purposes.  She purchased one title electronically for her study on student comprehension in print vs. electronic.  Kristine described the classroom experience, kids reading books on iPads in bean bag chairs, they were very careful with the devices.  Most didn’t know how to use the devices, so the distractions were minimal.  They used the iBooks features for adding sticky notes.  In her study, she didn’t find any difference in comprehension between students who read the print and students who read the iPad version.  However, they spent an entire hour reading the books electronically and wanted to read longer.  She would like to download more children’s books from the library to use in the classroom.  She described a scenario of using a username/password to download an ebook from the library.

Bethany, an undergrad student:  She bought a Kindle because her print bookshelves were getting full.  She uses it primarily for leisure reading, she can’t imagine reading a textbook on a 6″ screen. She purchases books and downloads free ones.  Her purchases are easier now because she can buy them online and a lot cheaper than in print.  She normally reads at home or perhaps in a cafe.  She doesn’t take it everywhere unless she is going on a longer trip.  At the library, she would like to find ebooks of new releases and the ability to look up words in a dictionary.  She uses the Kindle look-up feature much more often than she would in a print environment.

Savilla, a faculty member in Educational Technology:  She mostly uses the iPad now.  She also uses specific book applications such as the bible and sheet music, RSS feeds.  She is generally in a WI-FI environment and doesn’t have to do the monthly service fee.  Is she more distracted?  She’s generally distracted anyway, calls herself a “spastic reader.”  80% of the time she carries her iPad, but she does carry her mobile device more often and can read her RSS feeds and some books on that.  Would like BGSU to block license content to use for a determined amount of time.  i.e. purchase 30 licenses of X, but used by XX people because the content can still be shared, used by one person at a time. Publishers and content providers need to be able to make their content more accessible, more interactive.

Willie, an undergrad student:  He spends so much time on his phone and uses the Kindle app to download free classics.  He gets intimidated by big books, the phone takes that away.  He finds random spots in the day to read.   Willie wants unlimited access to the books available through OhioLINK, doesn’t want to wait for them to be returned.

Simon, an academic administrator:  He is an early adopter of technologies and owns a Kindle (has for several years).  He purchases books now.  He reads specific things at specific times.  He reads a lot of poetry, but would never read that on a Kindle.  The device is used for contemporary fiction (British) and some non-fiction.  He wants his content quickly and often it’s available on the Kindle before physically, he will buy both, the Kindle version for urgency and the print because he wants the print.  He never checks out books from the library, he would always want his own copy.  He is happy to spend money on books.  “Why would I want to share [my books]?”

Alexander, a graduate student:  He has a Kindle and purchases many titles, particularly textbooks and articles from library databases, he reads for pleasure.  He takes notes using the Kindle app on his Mac.  His book buying has stopped because he comes across books in a more shady manner. He reads all over the place an carries his laptop with him, having a word/word pad open on the left, Kindle reader on the right.  He annotates in Word on the laptop, doesn’t like the Kindle annotation options.  He used his Kindle for maps of different cities.  Newer theoretical texts and newly published monographs are titles he has difficulty finding for his Kindle, so he would be most interested in getting these from the library.  Ideally, he wants to request it online and have it delivered to his Kindle, with an option to renew it.  He’d like the option to download the html text of database articles to his Kindle because it’s more flexible. He spends a lot of time reformatting PDFs of articles for his Kindle.

Christine, a graduate student:  She owns a nook color because she could buy extra memory for it and it runs on the Android network.  She generally uses it for pleasure reading.  She buys books, downloads free ones, and finds them in other ways. Enjoys taking the device on trips and not having to carry a bunch of books.  She would be interested in a subscription service for academic texts.  She would probably not get used to electronically annotating because she is much more visual, remembering the position on a page where she made an annotation.   She would want to be able to download to her device so that a connection is not needed to access the content.