The E-xcitement over
Using E-books as Assistive Technology in the
By Bri tt a ny D yer
Spe ci a l Educ ati on Te ach er a n d C a se M a n age r
What is an E-book?
E-books stands for electronic
books. They are books that you
can retrieve and read from the
internet or a download on your
computer (Jackson, 2003).
However, people use the
term e-book to refer to the
device to read from, the
software needed, or the actual
file (Looney, 2001). For these
purposes, we will refer to e-
books as the file and use the
term e-book reader as the
What Kinds of E-books are
There are all sorts of e-books. E-books can be
already published books that are in print, or they
can be books thats are only available online.
E-books not only come in literature form, but
some companies also sell or provide textbooks
and reports (Jackson, 2003).
How does one View an
E-books can be viewed on a regular laptop, PC,
or Mac. However, e-books can also be used on e-
book readers and devices such as the Franklin
eBookMan and the goReader (Looney, 2001).
Teachers can also create their own e-books for
the classroom by using Microsoft Office and Clip
Art (Rhodes & Milby, 2007).
I taught a reading workshop during fall
semester. It’s hard to get my students to read
by themselves. We read as a class, with either
me reading aloud or other students who
wanted to volunteer. Looking around the
room, I noticed most of my kids had their
books in their laps not following along. I was
getting tired of telling kids to pick up their
While looking for my next
novel to read with the class
on the Barnes and Noble
website, I came across a
button that said to download
the electronic version. I
looked into it and
downloaded it onto my
laptop. I hooked the laptop
up to an overhead projector.
In class, I read aloud to my
students with the book
projected onto the screen.
My students loved
it! For the first time,
I saw students who
hated reading read
from the slides. I saw
students’ lips move
as they read the story
to themselves. They
were even asking me
at the beginning of
the day if we were
going to be reading
Becoming a Trend
In an article naming the top 5 K-12
technology trends of 2010, e-books
were ranked #1. This is due to the rise
in material available in more fiction
and non-fiction writings. E-book use is
expected to increase as technology
becomes even better and as e-book
readers gain color and animation tools
“Over the last 5 years, e-books are the
only book publishing segment
consistently showing double-digit sales
increases. The Association of American
Publishers’ (AAP) 2007 ‘S1 Report’
reveals that sales of e-books have enjoyed
a compounded growth rate of 55.7%
since 2002” (McKenzie, 2009).
❀ dictionary plug-ins
❀ text-to-speech technology (Looney, 2001)
❀ enhances student confidence
❀ interactive activities (Rhodes & Milby, 2007)
❀ instant access to library books
❀ brings lessons to life
❀ connect technology to learning
❀ zoom features
❀ keyword search(McKenzie, 2009)
❀ some textbooks cost half the price of hard
copies (Knutson & Fowler, 2009)
❀ some e-books are locked, which means that they can not be
shared or printed
❀ some people have complained that they are awkward and
❀ e-book readers are expensive (Knutson & Fowler, 2009)
❀ some people find it hard to read large bodies of text on the
❀ technical glitches
❀ recently published works are usually not free
❀ some parents are hesitant to invest in online books
❀ “vanilla text” usually typewriter print on white background
E-books are designed for:
In an article written
in 2001 by M. Looney, e-
books are described as
devices and material
used by college students.
Looney states that they
work best for people that
read for information or
for English as a Second
because of the text to
Who Beneﬁts from e-books?
In more recent articles, e-books have evolved and
are described as benefiting more types of students:
❀ students with disabilities (Rhodes and Milby,
❀ struggling readers (McKenzie, 2009)
E-books and Disabilities
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires that states
use researched based methods for teaching students to read.
One way to do this is through assistive technology.
How does this assistive technology help students with
disabilities? For one, the e-books provide multimedia support
for students who need help with understanding and
comprehension. Students with physical and learning
disabilities are accommodated through e-books with the
capability of being able to manipulate the text format. The
text-to-speech capabilities also help students who struggle
with a disability.
The e-books also provide increased interactivity for
students who need help staying focused or just have a hard
time enjoying reading (Rhodes, 2007).
E-books and Struggling
E-books help engage struggling readers by bringing books
to life. Students who feel embarrassed about students seeing
what they are reading no longer have to be, because other
students are not able to tell what they are reading on their
computer screen or e-book reader. Zoom tools, read aloud
options, dictionary and key word search, also make reading
more enjoyable and less of a struggle for readers that need
extra support (McKenzie, 2009).
In addition, text-to-speech capabilities and built in
dictionaries can also help students whose first language is
English (Looney, 2001).
Ideas for the Classroom
Extract meanings of complicated texts in front of the class while students view
their own copy of the book.
Teach a guided reading lesson with an interactive e-book and big book in front
of the whole class.
Teach a grammar lesson by taking out a passage from a novel (McKenzie,
To assist students with disabilities, provide them with the online version of a
Have students create their own e-books by having them read aloud a book and
put it to text.
Have students choose two poems, and have them highlight similarities
How can you use e-books
to enhance your classroom?
Jackson, L. (2003) E-book excitement. Education World . Retrieved from
Knutson, R., & Fowler, G.A. (2009) Book smarts? e-texts recieved mixed reviews
from students. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.online.wsj.com
Looney, M.A. (2001) Digitizing education: a primer on ebooks. Community
College Week, 14(2), 6-7. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com
McCrea, B. (2009) 5 k-12 technology trends for 2010. THE Journal. Retrieved from
McKenzie, D. (2009) Ebooks and the 21st century learning. Multimedia &Internet
@ Schools. 16(1), 27-28. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com
Rhodes, J.A, & Milby, T.M. (2007) Teacher-created electronic books: integrating
technology to support readers with disabilities. Reading Teacher, 61(3), 255-259.
Pictures taken personally by Brittany Dyer