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Kindles, iPads used in classrooms

April 12, 2011
By Evan Bevins ( , The Marietta Times

High school and college students are often eager to get their hands on the newest technology.

At the Washington County Career Center and Marietta College, they can do that in class.

The career center this semester purchased about 240 Amazon Kindle e-readers for use by members of the high school's junior class. In addition to being a cost-saving measure, the move is an effort to engage students in reading, said Roger Bartunek, career center superintendent.

"This is a generation of thumb typers," he said. "They're used to that kind of technology.

"The way they're set up, (students) can keep all their notes in there; they can keep all their reading materials in there; we can download textbooks onto them," Bartunek said.

The Kindles were purchased with a federal grant. Each unit costs about $130, a price Bartunek compared to $150 for some individual textbooks. There is still a cost to obtain the rights to download many books, but there are also a lot of free materials available.

Fact Box

Learning devices

Amazon Kindle-The Washington County Career Center purchased these e-readers for use by members of the junior class. Textbooks and other reading materials can be downloaded to the devices, and students can also keep notes on them.

Apple iPad-The tablet computers are being used by Marietta College's Education Department and corporate media program to show students how they can take advantage of them in their careers.

Many classic works of literature are available in the public domain and can be downloaded at no charge, Bartunek noted.

English instructor Sherm Koons said he likes being able to get a book downloaded in a day instead of having to request books for a class, get that approved and then wait for them to be delivered.

Koons said students have responded well to the devices, although some were a little apprehensive about one of their uses-15 minutes of free reading at the start of class.

"There are a variety of books they can choose from-everything from 'Dracula' to 'Black Beauty' to the Bible," Koons said.

Bartunek said the hope is that using a format that appeals to more students will encourage them to read more.

"Research forever has said the more you read, the better you read," he said.

It's working for some students.

Michael Barrett, a junior from the Belpre school district, said he has enjoyed using the Kindle.

"I don't read much. When I first got the Kindle, I finished a whole book," he said.

Barrett said he also likes the feature that allows him to look up the definition of an unfamiliar word, right from the page.

Warren junior Aaron Brooks said the Kindle has practical benefits.

"This way I can scan through a couple books without carrying them with me," he said.

Bartunek said the career center is working the bugs out of the system now. He would like to see next year's class of juniors get Kindles when they start and keep them throughout their tenure at the school, he said.

Another device growing in popularity-the iPad-is being used by students in Marietta College's Education Department and corporate media master's program.

According to a release from the college, the Education Department purchased 10 of the tablet computers last year to demonstrate how they can benefit teachers of kindergartners through high school seniors. In the release, professors noted the iPads can be used for Internet research, making classroom presentations and apps that cover everything from language tools to videos.

This semester, the corporate media program, which focuses on public relations and corporate communications, acquired about a dozen iPads.

"There's just so many things that these students do (with which) this could be helpful," said Tom Perry, director of college relations. "This is the world that these people are going to be working in."

Perry noted many of the students have had jobs or internships and are very much in a professional mode. Part of their final project includes working with local businesses.



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