Or as I like to call them…I truly believe that all librarians are teachers whether or not they stand in the front of a classroom.
Content v. Containers. - tupperwareAndinitally when we taught resources, the container mattered. It was a very orderly progression…secondary resources, digests, case reporters…I mean, maybe the order was different, but it was very clearly PRINT and then at the end we taught Lexis and Westlaw.
Now that’s all changed. When I taught legal research, I made a real effort to teach content, not containers. So, when I taught ALRs or Citators, it wasn’t just the print version or just the electronic version. It was the piece of information (or content) and that information could take on many forms (or container.) Case law in a reporter or on Lexis or Westlaw... didn’t matter. The container was really a pesky detail. As we’ll see, this is no longer the case.
What is a book? - book picA collection of information - mostly text but sometimes images - stored in static form. Common features include...- a Table of Contents, -information dividers called “chapters” or “sections” that consist of “pages” ; -it’s read in linear fashion (front to back) ;
What is an eBook? - ebookpic that looks like printHonestly, up until now, ebooks haven’t been radically different from traditional print books. They’re static collections of text - maybe some pictures included. You can bookmark and write notes. Generally read them in a linear fashion
Publishers take great pains to make them as much like a book as possible - even so far as to put covers on them. designers of ebooks actually do everything they can to make the ebook experience. even fake pages! Actually ebooks are almost exactly like print booksActually they’re worse
The problem with ebooks. - ebookpicYou don’t see it quite as much as you did when Kindles first premiered just a scant four and a half years ago. But there is an attitude out there that you are either an ebook person or a “real” book person and never the twain shall meet. and as a result you see lots of “why my preferred information delivery device is superior to yours.” I mean, they usually phrase it as ‘ebooks suck”, but you know...
two - ebookpicThe anti-ebook squad does make a lot of good points. And some of these points can never be fixed by technological advances. So, if you’re someone that love the tactile feel of paper and smell of a book, well...yeah, you’re never going to be happy with a plastic kindle. And also, especially when we’re dealing with reference-y type books, spatial memory is lost. So, what that is, if you’re not aware, it’s like if you don’t know what page you’re supposed to be on, but you know the bit of information you need is in the front part of the book. That’s spatial memory.
three - DRM picAnd then there’s other problems with ebooks that are especially relevant to those of us that are librarian and educators. it’s pretty hard, as a library, to own and circulate ebooks. Generally speaking, you can license them and use a vendor like Overdrive to manage the circulation
four - silo piceBooks have essentially become silos. It’s hard for regular people to loan their ebooks to others. Or make copies of particular sections (fair use or otherwise allowable copies of parts of it, of course.) They’re actually also more static than a print book...you can’t really tear out pages or move things around.
But the problem really isn’t with ebooks. eBooks don’t suck. The problem really is that publishers suck.
So, really, what are ebooks and what are some of the advantages to them? First, let me take a moment to clear something up. A PDF of a book is not an ebook. It’s like, let’s take the worst characteristics of both print and digital and make them into one product that’s just going to frustrate the Hell out of all involved. A PDF is a digital photocopy.
That being said, even the Faux ebook like a PDF has the advantages of all ebooks. You can store an almost infinite amount in a small container. Great for both vacation readers and students with 100+ pounds of casebooks. They’re adaptable for visually impaired. You can search. Highlight text and write notes and share these notes with others. You can hyperlink and jump around in the text. that last one is not as easy in PDF as it is in other true ebook formats, but it’s possible.
A true ebook is actually a mini-webpage. So any bell and whistle you can have in a webpage, you can pretty much have in an ebook. So embedded videos, links to explanatory materials and..maybe most importantly...you can really get rid of the linear progression. Especially when we’re talking educational materials, this is a fabulous advancement.
choose your own adventure Most textbooks/casebooks are currently set up to be read front to back, but don’t have to be. There could be side trails and off shoots depending on the student or particular instructors wants and needs. Let’s say we’re in a basic con-law course and we’re discussing Brown v. board of education. Of course, we’ll harken back to Justice Harlan’s famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson that started the groundwork for this decision. So we can link to the text of it, if the student want to go back and see it exactly. Or material can be put in that provides some historical context for what was going on in the united states in the 1950s. So clips of news reals showing lunch counter protests or links to newspaper reports. Biographies of civil rights leaders, the attorneys that argued the case (one of whom was of course thurgoodmarshall) Links to law journal articles that discuss related points. All things that can be ignored if you think that they have no place in your curriculum make the subject more alive for the student.
So that’s why we like to say that e in ebooks should really stand for “enhanced.” So before when we talked about content v. containers, we said it didn’t matter. Now, suddenly, it actually does. The container can completely change the how the user interacts with the material and can bring new uses to it.
In the middle of all this ebook talk, I do want to take a minute and talk about education and specifically open education. Open education is a movement to remove barriers of education - make it free and open. As an example of this, we’re seeing universities like Standford and MIT offer courses online for free. CALI also participated in this earlier in the Spring with the MOOC (massive open online course) it did on the future of legal practice. I think the value and sustainablity of programs like that is very debatable.
But within the Open Education umbrella is something called “Open Educational Resources.” OER are materials that are made available through open licences (either public domain or creative commons) and can be remixed, resused, adapted by educators. Very similar to open source software
OER is perfect for higher education and especially for law schools. Why? Law faculty have a lot more autonomy in their classes than, say, a state elementary school teacher where everyone has to use the same text book. Secondly, the base material of what we teach in law schools is primary law. Which is all public domain and free to get. Everyone that’s been to law school knows what the big civil procedure cases are. International shoe, Burger King, World Wide Volkswagen, etc. All you need is a the professor to decide the order to read them in and what the salient parts are. adn finally, we’re in a bit of a crisis right now in law schools. Student debt loads are going up and job availability is going down. Now, free casebooks are not going to erase 100,000 debt load. BUT. It will save a student about 1000 dollars a semester.
It’s definitely hard to get people to willingly share their intellectual property/content, especially publicly. If you ask someone for their syllabus, they’ll usually send it to you, but if you ask to post it on the web, then they get a little shy about it. I don’t quite understand that. But I am possibly an over-sharer. Hopefully one day people will make small sacrifices in order to help the greater group. I mean, how many ways are there to teach legal research? Why must we all re-invent the wheel? but I digress.
At the intersection of OER and eBooks we have CALI’s eLangdell Press.
CALI has been dancing around ebooks for years, but 2009-2010 they really got into gear and announced the eLangdell stimulus where we pay professors $500/chapter and upto $20,000 for a book.
- written by law faculty, who are paid for their work- not just case law - can contain secondary materials - edited and reviewed by CALI staff- Creative Commons licensed- Distributed for free on CALI’s elangdell website in multiple formats - EVEN PRINT. - people can do what they want with it. change it around. take out chunks. add to it.
eBooks& EducationSarah Glassmeyer, JD MLS -- Director of Content Development, CALI -- Sarah@CALI.org
OER – Perfect for Law• Faculty autonomy• Base material is law – less copyright issues• Common ideas on “important cases”• Law school crisis
eLangdell Press• Written by law faculty• They are PAID for this• Edited and reviewed by CALI• Creative commons licensed• Distributed by CALI for FREE• Multitple formats – EVEN PRINT• We do not care what people do with them as long as they don’t sell