Jen Walters, a kindergarten teacher at Codington Elementary School, was named one of New Hanover County Schools’ Teachers of the Year in 2009. She used the winnings from that award, along with those from a local business, to purchase NOOKs, e-reading devices made by Barnes and Noble, to use in her classroom.
They are so easy to use that the children have no trouble using them independently, or even troubleshooting common problems. As Summer Ehasz, one of Walters’ students said, ‘It’s really easy to do’.
Walters did stress however that the devices were used as supplementary teaching, they weren’t an outright replacement for one on one classroom time or time scheduled to read paper books aloud to students.
“This is one-on-one practice and attention when they’re not with a teacher,” Walters said. “It’s not taking the place of us reading to the children.”
NOOKs are becoming increasingly used in the classroom. Phillips Library recently took possession of a number of the devices as part of a VITAL grant from the Chicago Public School Dept of Libraries and Information Services. The award was one of five in the district.
As technology in the classroom is becoming commonplace, the availability and functionality of the NOOK is likely to be better suited to some classes, such as Walters’ kindergarten class, than iPad options. An increased supply of options does have the definite benefit of making it easier for school boards to make fiscally sound purchasing decisions as they switch to a more technologically based classroom, and this will allow more schools to avoid the unfortunate situation that one school district found itself in when just after spending $10 million on iPads they had to beg for an additional $27.5 million to pay salaries.
The NOOK is not just for kids and provides a genuine easy to use e-reader for all ages. It has a multitude of apps available and the tablet version can even stream music and movies. The big draw for young classrooms however is the option to have the story read aloud and the various interactive options available. Microsoft just invested $300 million for a 17.6% stake in the NOOK business.