E is for…
By e I don’t mean the mathematical constant (whatever that is) or e=mc2
I mean e for electronic, as in e-learning, e-CPD, e-portfolio, e-books and so on.
One of the big debates of the moment is about e-books and whether they are helping publishing and writers. As an administrator of an online Writing Community I can say that the emergence of e-publishing has made it pretty easy (and cheap) for me to publish competition anthologies and a magazine for http://www.slingink.com. I have done this through http://www.lulu.com. The only real financial layout I have had is in ordering the proof copies of the print books so that they can be distributed though other retailers. The books can be made available as a PDF download or individual customers can make a print on demand order all managed through lulu. They’ve also just contacted me to say they are putting the books forward to become available through iBooks (a word of caution you do have to have some, or get some, technical knowledge of PDF formats to create an uploadable file).
Of course it’s the Amazon Kindle that really seems to be driving the e-book market forward and allowing authors to self-publish their material and in some cases make more money doing this than they would through traditional publishing. The name that springs to mind is Amanda Hocking and you can read her recent blog post about her switching back to traditional publishing here.
When I have something decent written I may well turn to Kindle myself too.
My C post was on CPD and one of the things I have been investigating over the last few years at work is finding an e-portfolio tool that will support my students (and myself) to maintain our CPD and share elements of it with potential employers, our registering body and others. In fact my presentation at last year’s College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference was on this topic. One of the biggest findings that arose from an audit I completed was that current practice was still very much paper based and I think this is a factor that is preventing e-portfolios taking hold once students leave university. I think I’ll leave this topic here today and post in more detail at a later date. The search continues…
I am a huge supporter of e-learning and by this I mean using online technologies to support learning. As an Open University alumni I have been an e-learner myself, distance learning using the Firstclass forums. The OUs OpenLearn initiative to share free learning resources means that everyone with access to a computer can get a flavour of a range of subjects. In my professional life it is e-learning and developing online resources that inspires me and I have used Facebook, podcasts, blogs, wikis, e-portfolios to name but a few to, hopefully, enhance the learning experience of my students.
Despite my love of all things e, I think there is a place for traditional means and methods too.
I have a kindle but I am not planning on selling any of my books anytime soon and as my B post demonstrates I love Books (weirdly enough a second hand smoky smelling, liquid book arrived through the post (which had been described as in Good condition) – I am sending it back and debating buying the kindle version instead.
I still have to buy albums in CD format (though I will download singles) and films and TV shows have to contribute to my DVD collection.
At one of the sessions at the e-portfolio conference I attended in Birmingham recently, the speaker discussed having given students a choice of how to gather evidence for a portfolio, scrapbooking was a more popular option than e-portfolios.
As good as e-learning can be there are some things that can only be taught face to face. I particularly enjoy one to one or small group sessions where I can really get a flavour of what students have learnt.
A few questions for you:
What have your experiences of e-learning be? In what situations would e-learning be the best method to learn and in what situations would other methods be better?
Has anyone used an e-portfolio? What type? What were your experiences? OTs, if there was a readily accessible e-portfolio system available for you to use, would you? Why/Why not?
Writers what do you think of the e-book versus traditional publishing route?