CONNECTED CL ASSROOM
Shifting the Landscape
Two 21st-century events are converging in
a perfect storm. Google is converting the
world’s books to digital format, and emerging electronic ink (e-ink) reading devices offer a
new means of reading digitized books. Together
these promise to shift the teaching and learning
In a strategic move to reshape the library of the
future, the University of Virginia is removing all
50,000 physical volumes from the Curry School
of Education library. At the same time, Google
is digitizing almost all 50,000 volumes, some in
Virginia and others through similar arrangements that Google has made with other participating universities.
This is the first known instance in which a
school of education has made a transition to
digital books in this manner, but it is likely the
harbinger of a significant evolution that will
affect both schools and society. New modes
of access offer opportunities for thinking
about contemporary teaching and learning.
Digitized books and periodicals are available through
Google Book Search at http://books.google.com.
genre and subject. There are versions of Google
Books for mobile devices such as the iPhone,
the iPod Touch, and Google Android compatible phones. These devices are rapidly becoming
ubiquitous portable book readers.
Digitizing the World’s Books
Access to copyrighted digitized books is contingent on final settlement of a Google agreement
with authors and publishers scheduled for approval this year. Although the exact timing and
terms of the agreement are not finalized, it is clear
that the era of the book as we have known it is
about to undergo an irreversible transition. Many
of the books and periodicals from around the
world that Google has digitized are already available through Google Book Search on the Web.
This provides access to past issues of popular
magazines and academic journals as well as fiction and nonfiction books covering almost every
Digital Book Readers
Meanwhile, electronic readers, such as the
Kindle, are beginning to find their way into the
mainstream. Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief
of Slate, now uses the Kindle for much of his
recreational reading, finding that under certain
conditions it “provides a fundamentally better
experience—and will surely produce a radically
better one with coming iterations.” Because of
this experience, he concludes that the 500-year
marriage between printing and reading may be
nearing its end.
Jakob Nielsen, a leading expert on usability,
had a similar reaction, commenting, “When I
was carrying the Kindle through the house, I
felt like a Star Trek character with a datapad.