My colleague Katie Ash recently wrote a fine article on the use of e-readers with students who have reading disabilities. My takeaway is that the jury is still out on the usefulness of such devices as a widespread intervention, but that for some students, e-readers could be helpful.
Also interesting: one educator quoted in the article made the point that because e-readers are not designed specifically for students with disabilities, they don't have a stigma attached to them and might be used more readily by students in front of their classmates. I can actually imagine a group of students fighting over who gets to be the first one to use the iPad or the Kindle.
But nothing can replace solid teaching, everyone agrees. From the article:
That looking-before-you-leap cautionary note is something that Lotta Larson, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Kansas State University, in Manhattan, Kan., also expresses about e-readers in education.
"There's a huge sense of urgency right now," she says. "This [technology] is starting to enter our schools very rapidly, especially as the prices come down, and before that happens, we have to inform people."
Indeed, there's a real need for professional development to accompany the reading devices, says Larson. "I don't think the e-reader in itself is going to make a difference, but if it's used with effective instruction, then it can make a huge difference," she says.