Once there was a postman who fell in love with a raven…

I was listening to an interview on  our national radio station, RTÉ Radio One, this evening, between visual artist AudreyNiffeneggerand writer Audrey Niffeneger and Arena presenter, Evelyn O’ Rourke

Niffeneger was talking about her graphic novel Raven Girl which is now in production by the Royal Ballet in London.

I was stopped in my tracks when I heard Niffeneger speak about her concept of what an eBook is – not a replacement for a book, not a shiny new way of doing old things, but something else altogether. She spoke of the connectivity of a community around her writings, facilitated by her independent publisher, Zola Books.

In a recent interview with the Guardian online she said

“…I can see from history that the ebook [as a medium], while currently a little clunky and weird, is inevitably going to be gorgeous”…

Is anyone sure where the online educational book is going?

Con Power initiated a debate on the on the Computer Education Society of Ireland (CESI) list recently. He wrote

“The publishers ideas of ‘ebooks’ don’t work – they are very expensive, use awful software and are mostly rolled up scans of books that don’t make good use of technological affordances. “

The ensuing debate was interesting, but I am not sure it went anywhere (but give Con some time over the Summer!) and that is why I say schools should wait for the moment, where eBooks are concerned. There is something, in my view, not quite right.

Niffeneger and her publisher talk about developing community around her books.

We as teachers need to think about developing ways of allowing student expression around digital content, as Power says making good use of technological affordances.

I am thinking again of educationalist Elliot W. Eisner’s and his Ten Lessons the Arts Teach.

If we are going to purchase tablets or whatever to read eBooks, they (and the applications they run) must allow (enable, afford, facilitate) some or all, of Eisner’s lessons to be taught.

Look for example at his first and third lesson

  • The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
  •  The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

How, I ask can we do this – how can we allow engagement, creation and genuine collaborative expression rather than a new shiny version of a hardcover?

Niffeneger photo credit By Michael Strong  [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

The title of this post is taken from the first line of Niffeneger‘s Raven Girl


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