e-books take weight of learning off the shoulders of students


A GROUP of 18 secondary school pupils yesterday became the first students worldwide to replace their academic books with electronic devices.

The first year students of Caritas College girls' school in Ballyfermot, Dublin, each received an electronic book, pre-loaded with the required textbooks, as well as 50 classic novels including Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudiceand Oliver Twist.

The use of the electronic devices will mean a dramatic reduction in the weight of the pupils schoolbags, replacing more than 6kg (13.2lbs) of textbooks, workbooks, an English dictionary and a novel with a 400g (0.9lbs) e-book.

In addition, the students will no longer need copybooks to take notes, as they can write and doodle on the electronic pages, similar to a regular copybook.

The students can decide later if they wish to save or erase their notes from the electronic pages.

Adrienne Whelan, Principal of Caritas College, said that the school was honoured to take part in this pilot programme.

"Students no longer have to worry about timetables, carrying separate copybooks for every subject and forgetting books, as the e-book combines everything into one," Ms Whelan pointed out.

Parents are also delighted that their daughters have lighter schoolbags to carry as a result of using the device, Ms Whelan added.

Rebecca Lynch, a first year pupil at the school, said she found the e-book very helpful. "Most of my books are in one and it's really light to carry," Rebecca said.

Her classmate Megan Toland said the electronic book was better than having to carry textbooks and copybooks, but admitted it can be a little difficult to take notes. "It's hard to write neatly on an electronic device," Megan pointed out.

Kayleigh Jackson said the electronic book helped students to be more organised, as there were less worries about sorting books and forgetting books.

Peter Thew, sales and marketing director at Gill and Macmillan, which introduced the pilot scheme at Caritas College, said: "Although we believe that the widespread adoption of e-readers is some time off, this project allows us to determine how well they work in the classroom, how the pupils interact with them and to examine their potential."

Developed by iRex Technologies in the Netherlands, the iLiad uses E-ink technology, which makes it a similar experience to reading ink on paper. Information from the e-book, which typically retails at €599, can also be transferred to a computer.