As digital textbooks gain popularity around the country, there are still parts of the U.S. and other industrialized nations that do not currently benefit from the obvious advantages of e-reading in academic arenas, which is odd considering that even the textbook publishers are in support of electronic educational content as a cost saving measure. But with the introduction of Bookstream, schools now have a much more cost-effective and efficient tool at the ready to introduce ebooks, especially for the under-served special education students.
“Bookstream started about three years ago,” says Ben Johnston, president of Don Johnston Company and son of the original founder, in an interview today with GoodEReader.com, “because it was mind boggling to me that when I was in school the first day always meant passing out textbooks. You spent the whole day wrapping them up in grocery bags to protect the covers. Then the publishers would even start sending book covers to protect them. Twenty-five years later the same thing is still happening. Now, the students go home and use their computers and smartphones, but we still use the same kinds of textbooks. But for students who have learning disabilities, or a visual impairment, they’re really struggling to read the content. The words are too small or they can’t read the words on the page, yet that’s how things still are in schools.”
Bookstream allows teachers to upload ePub or Daisy files that are provided from the existing textbook provider, often within the cost of the school’s textbooks, then make those books available to the class on the school computers. At home, the students can not only log in to read their assigned content, but the teacher can also see which students logged in and read how many pages. This way, although different publishers may have provided the different textbooks across the curriculum, all of the material can be available in one cloud-based library for the students to use.
At the same time, a desktop computer that has logged on to the Bookstream website to access content can allow students who need the assistance to hear the material read to them, just as a handheld device owned by the student can use the text-to-speech capability for the student at home. The opportunities for students with varying degrees of special education accessibility needs, as well as other factors like immigrant populations and ESL learners, are more available to all students.
“The IT people and the curriculum people worked together in the schools where we’ve tested this. We’ve primarily focused on the special education population, but it has a lot of merit and use for other demographics like ESL. Some schools are trying a more-economical ‘BYOD,’ or ‘bring your own device’ system. If the students already own devices, why can’t they use them for school? If they read Bookstream content on the school computers, they can access those same materials at home on their personal devices,” continues Johnston.
As there is no software to install on school computers with Bookstream accounts, the time it takes for a teacher to create an account and begin uploading material takes about thirty minutes, an unheard of time span in the world of educational accountability for technology use. While the price tag—around $1800 for a one-time registration for an entire school, with a lesser annual membership fee after that—may leave some people wondering how schools can afford to integrate Bookstream learning, it is important to know that some major computer learning modules from software publishers can easily run in the six figures per school. As Bookstream allows individual schools and classrooms to determine what best fits the needs of the population they serve, the digitizing of content might be able to happen more quickly than the schools even hoped.
[showhide type=’pressrelease’]Bookstream–New Cloud-based Library Delivers eBooks to Students’ iPads, Smartphones, and Laptops
Educators and school districts now have a new option to upload, deliver and manage accessible eBooks, textbooks and instruction materials from an online cloud for students to read on their iPads, Smartphones and laptops. Teachers can hop on the Internet, assign reading content, manage large digital files, protect copyright laws and comply with IDEA 2004 to deliver core curriculum in accessible formats.
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Hand Holding Portable Device with eBook
Bookstream – Cloud-based digital library supports school districts to deliver accessible eBooks direct to students’ portable devices and assistive technologies for anytime reading.
Quote startConsumers are quickly embracing eBooks, but there are additional challenges for schools. Bookstream makes it easy and trackable for teachers and administrators to deliver accessible ‘digital’ books.Quote end
Volo, IL (PRWEB) September 06, 2011
This school year, educators will have a new option to deliver their books. In addition to handing out textbooks in class, they will deliver eBooks through the cloud to students’ iPads, smartphones, and laptops with a new online service called Bookstream.
Bookstream, developed by Don Johnston Incorporated, makes it easy for educators to hop on the Internet, upload eBooks and share them with students for anytime reading. It was designed to help educators comply with IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) that require schools to deliver core curriculum in accessible formats to support students with disabilities.
“We work with assistive technology specialists who drive hundreds of miles each week to deliver eBooks on flash drives,” said Ben Johnston, Director of Marketing. “It’s ironic that eBooks are delivered by car, but as one special educator explained, there aren’t many alternatives—book files are often too big and unwieldy to email or download. She was also concerned about violating copyright laws and wanted an easier way to manage digital content. She inspired us to do something about it, and now we have with Bookstream.”
For districts that are just beginning to build an accessible curriculum, Bookstream includes access to thousands of eBooks and fully supports Bookshare’s more than 110,000+ digital files. It will read any book in ePub format without DRM restrictions. Teachers can also upload and share their own quizzes and worksheets with students.
Consumers are quickly embracing eBooks, but there are additional challenges for school districts to do the same,” said Kevin Johnston, Director of Product Design. “For schools, eBooks come with different rights for different students, the books need to be accessible on school computers and on personal devices, and some electronic textbooks can be over two gigabytes each! With Bookstream, we solve these challenges for educators, making the whole process easier. We also built in tracking tools so educators can see how much time their students spend reading and which books they read.”
eBooks read through Bookstream are 508 compliant as outlined in the Federal Rehabilitation Act. They are accessible to any assistive technology with a web browser such as Don Johnston’s Read:OutLoud text reader or the JAWS screen reader for individuals with visual impairments. Bookstream embeds text-to-speech that can be streamed on any Mac or Windows computer.
“Cloud computing has the potential to create the infrastructure our schools need to keep up with the digital world,” said Debbie Fogg Ed.S., CCC/SLP, ATP at Naperville School District #203, IL, one of the first school districts to purchase Bookstream. “We’re excited to have a platform to deliver electronic text to students’ personal and district-owned laptops and mobile devices. We hope to see an increase in academic performance as a result of the anytime reading access.”
From now until December 30, 2011, U.S. schools can take advantage of introductory pricing on Bookstream that gives school districts two years of access for the price of one. First year costs are $1749 with an annual maintenance fee of $529 per site. Districts may also qualify for discounts depending on number of sites they purchase.
“Educators can set up their accessible library and deliver e-Books in less than 30 minutes,” adds Ben Johnston. “Our technology is similar to Amazon’s Cloud Drive and Apple’s iCloud, but we’re choosing to focus on education; that’s what we’re passionate about. Five years ago, it was inconceivable that schools could deliver an accessible curriculum beyond a few students per school, but now through the new cloud technology and digital books, Bookstream makes it all possible and cost-effective.”
Learn about Bookstream, Accessible Instructional Materials and all of Don Johnston’s reading products.
About Don Johnston Incorporated
Don Johnston (http://www.donjohnston.com) develops accessible reading and writing technologies to support K-12 and postsecondary students with cognitive, physical, and learning disabilities. Since 1980, the special education company has partnered with literacy experts, AT specialists, SLPs, OTs, special education teachers, university researchers and DSS coordinators to improve access to learning and to increase reading and writing independence. Tens of thousands of students with dyslexia, autism, dysgraphia, down-syndrome and diverse learning challenges use our software and hardware devices to accommodate their learning needs in schools, the workforce and at home. Find us on Twitter and Facebook.[/showhide]