Thursday, January 31, 2008

BPN 994 Digital paper was tested in school

Last year I posted a blog on digital paper being tested in a school. The posting was one of the many publications in the news media. And after the publicity clouds had settled, it grew silent. Was this an ominous sign? I recently had the opportunity to discuss the trial with Frits Hoff, the managing director of Mr Hoff stressed from the beginning of the interview that there has been no official evaluation and that the conclusions were only indicative. Yet they are very interesting.

The testers were the pupils and educational staff of the Bonnefanten College in Maastricht, in the South of The Netherlands. The eReader was the iLiad of iRex Technologies. Publishers had promised support. was the organiser of the trial.

I learned more details about the trial. The trial was held with one class of 30 pupils in secondary school; to be precise, class 3 of the Gymnasium of the Bonnefanten College. Also the teaching staff has been heavily involved. The subject area was the Dutch language. The trial lasted six weeks. Three publishers, Malmberg, EPN and Thieme supported the trial by offering digital schoolbooks; especially Thieme put a lot effort in it.

The trial proved that the eReader works like a book, but can do more than a book. The interesting part of the eReader is that the theory book, the work book as well as the exercise book are in one device. One of the non tested situations was the home work. As the eReaders could not be insured under the trial, they had to stay in the classroom; so the use for homework could only be tested in a limited situation at school.

The pupils and the teachers were very enthusiastic about the trial, if only as a solution for the daily heavy schoolbag with books. Also parents were happy as they saw the difference between 450 grams and on average 7 kilograms of books. And the pupils themselves were cyber heroes for while as they were involved in the trial.

Technologically the trial also showed some technical difficulties. The iLiad is difficult to use in combination with a web browser: the iLiad can not browse the internet. Also, the iLiad software needed improvement to cope with the content float. The A5 size of the eReader is not optimal. Much printed content will have to be converted from A4 into A5. This can not be done automatically; so it is expensive. (That was the mean reason for not going on with the trial with other subjects). And organisationally it is needed to involve everyone, pupils and staff, in the introduction on the eReader. got much publicity with the trial, not only from inside education, but also from outside and from abroad. Educational publishers sought contact. Authors offered their content for courses. The company learned much from the trial. The conclusion is that the iLiad is a step in the right direction of a proper educational tool, certainly as far the weight of the eReader goes. But the A5 of the iLiad is too small and too costly and cumbersome for converting educating material. is now developing an A4 eReader according to its own specifications, software and with colour.

Blog Posting Number: 994

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