Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How are you Reading

cross-posted from

I bought an iPad in May and it has definitely changed my reading habits. While I am an avid reader and my house is filled with books, I have started to read books on my mobile device. Why am I switching?
I’ll be moving this year and am looking at the many books on my shelves. They take up an enormous amount of space. While I love to see them and remember the hours of pleasure they afforded me, I also think about how they will fit as I downsize. The books I buy now don’t need to fit on shelves, just on virtual shelves.
I like the pluses of electronic books. I can easily highlight sections, add notes and bookmark parts I want to go back to. I recently read Lorna Crozier’s biography, “Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir” and reveled in her poetic language. I highlighted favourite passages and can easily go back to them. (I read this one with the Kobo app).
I love to read in bed and my partner loves to sleep! Now I don’t have to switch on a light to indulge in my simple pleasure. My current read is “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, which has been revealing as well as a trip down memory lane as I bought my first computer in 1983 and have owned Apple products ever since. I am using the iBooks app that comes with the iPad to read this one.
I can adjust the font and font size to the way I feel most comfortable reading. This is great for students too.
Travelling becomes lighter as both the books I take to read while on holiday and the travel books themselves are all on the one device.
If you have students who struggle with reading, the iPad can read the text to them. They don’t have to be held back by their difficulty deciphering the words. And for those who read, but still need some words defined, holding down on the word opens a dialogue box. One of the choices is define and the word’s definition is readily available.
The biggest bonus comes when reading books that were written for mobile devices. They can be embedded with links, videos, animations. Then reading takes on new dimensions. I have been reading “Playing with Media: simple ideas for powerful sharing” by Wesley Fryer. It is a great way to learn about digital text, audio and video editing and where to post it. As I read, I can watch the videos which provide step-by-step instructions. This book is a great place to start if you are just getting into using digital media with your students as well as for the more tech savvy of you who want to broaden your knowledge.
Many libraries are now loaning ebooks. You can download the book and it disappears from your device after the loan period.
In a future post, I will share a bit about how your students can become creators of ebooks. Consuming and creation are two sides of the ebook revolution.
What are the downsides? I can’t pass my books on to my 93 year-old cousin who is still an avid reader. I am not patronizing our few local independent book stores as I buy the books online. With my choice of an iPad vs one of the less expensive ebook readers, I won’t be taking it to a beach to read.
Do I read everything on a mobile device? No – I still buy books which I want to share. I have a collection of children’s books and love to sit with a child to share the text and illustrations. Though, recently I came across an amazing children’s book that was created for the iPad, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. I still buy professional books. I like to take them to workshops and pass them around to inspire others – hard to do with a digital device.
How are you reading? I’d love to hear about how you feel about the switch to digital books. What device are you using? Would you recommend it to others and why or why not. Are you using eReaders with your students?
And, of course, share your favourite titles.

John Grierson

Living in Montreal, I grew up with films from the National Film Board of Canada. My father had a 16mm projector and my brother rented films for a group of his friends. I got to watch with them. I became a huge fan of Norman McLaren and of course, learned about John Grierson as the first head of the film board. When I was in university, I had the privilege of taking a film course (appreciation of films, not making them) with the man. He was already in his early 70s, but his passion and depth made the course compelling. It was just a couple of years before he died.

The NFB has made its films available on line and today I was pointed in the direction of a film about John Grierson. Well, I just had to watch it. It was worth every minute.

He talked about telling stories -
Walter Winchell  asked how people could know everything about everything in the modern world. Grierson thought about how he could help spread knowledge.

Grierson initially was interested in the press - but "if you dramatized things..... as distinct from giving information you might find a way of illuminating the world" Then he got interested in movies. It was he who coined the term documentary film.

During WWII, he was invited to Canada and it was then that the film board was founded. He was an innovator ahead of his time. I think of how we are helping students tell digital stories. They could do well to watch some of the many films available from the NFB to see how the masters, many of the early ones schooled under Grierson's directorship, plied their craft. Grierson knew that the best way to educate, to inform was through story.