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End of heavy schoolbags? Students welcome eBooks to classrooms

The ASTI has welcomed the sale of new eBook apps by Folens, but cautioned that the Government must ensure that all students have “equal access to quality educational experiences”.

Image: TDN Channel via Flickr

FOLENS HAS HELPED beckon in the age of the digital classroom with its new eBook app.

Folens Publishers have launched the first range of eBooks available to students on all digital platforms – Android, Apple iOS and Windows. The Folens App, which is free to download, will have 26 Junior Certificate titles and 16 Leaving Certificate titles which will be available for purchase in June 2012. Titles will be added to the list of downloads on an ongoing basis thereafter.

Shane Stafford of Folens Publishers said the new apps “go a long way towards simplifying the lives of parents, teachers and students as Irish classrooms enter the digital age”.

Trial chapters are now available for download in the iPad Appstore, Google Play for Android and through Folens.ie for Windows versions.

The student eBooks are enhanced with audio and work with the onscreen teacher’s eBooks for the same title. These teachers’ eBooks have been integrated with digital resources created specifically for each title. For example, Folens have exclusively partnered with Channel 4 Learning’s Clipbank and Espresso Learning to provide quality video content for teachers to assist them in the classroom.

The company says its aim is to migrate away from standard eBooks to a broader range of apps that will work together.

In 2011 Folens piloted the eBook app on the iPad with selected schools. This year, the company partnered with Samsung – the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 will come pre-loaded with the Folens Android app and sample content.

The ASTI has welcomed the move, but warned that the Government should keep its focus on equality among pupils:

There are definite advantages to ebooks, as long as the school has the necessary IT infrastructure and hardware. The roll out of broadband to all second-level schools will be helpful, but the Government must ensure there is a continuous focus on hardware so that all students have equal access to quality educational experiences.

It added that eBooks should help schools and parents cope with the high cost of school books.

In May 2011, it was announced that a secondary school in Mayo decided to allow pupils to replace heavy schoolbags with the iPad, Apple’s lightweight tablet device.

Arthritis Ireland reported earlier this month that researchers in Spain showed that children put themselves at risk of “a lifetime of back pain” by carrying school bags that are heavy.

The research was carried out at the University of Santiago de Compostela and was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

A spokesperson for Arthritis Ireland said at the time:

Many back problems suffered by adults can be traced back to when they carried heavy school bags as children. Today, with the advances in online educational resources and other technologies, parents have a lot more options when considering how to reduce their child’s bag weight.

Read: Should schools allow students to replace text books with tablet devices?>

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