Monday, September 14, 2009

Rethinking digital education party times.

So earlier this month I blogged about Cushing Academy getting rid of their books and redesigning their library. I still am against getting rid of all the books in a school library (that is dumb). BUT that does not mean that I am against using digital readers instead of textbooks.

My mom sent me this article about how other schools are using digital media as learning tools, replacing textbooks with Kindles and iPod Touches. I think that is a BRILLIANT idea. I hate textbooks, unless they are English textbooks (as those are never out of date, like say history or science textbooks--I mean, O. Henry's short stories and T.S. Eliot's poetry ain't a-changing like these times). I would MUCH rather have gotten issued a Kindle in college and used that instead of getting stupid textbooks that I never ever used (*COUGHCOUGHSCIENCECOUGH*). I could still be using a Kindle and get books that way, and lots of classics are free on there, I hear. Or are like a dollar.

Though if laptops and stuff are used instead, then there are still the problems of limitless distractions and whatnot. But those of us who've been in college classes recently have dealt with that anyway (I am guilty of reading emails and reading things that have nothing to do with class while in class).

Though if you think about it, textbooks do give you the opportunity to write all over the place (and possibly doodle). I doubt it would work quite so well on a digital reader.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The end is at hand.

No, I'm not talking about 2012 or Armageddon. Though for someone like me, what happened at Cushing Academy is close.

The private school in Ashburnham, MA has decided that the future is completely and utterly digital, with no room whatsoever for books. Literally. They've recently gotten rid of their 20,000+ collection of books, to make way for what they believe is the future.

I'm sorry, but don't you think that's a little extreme?

David Abel, the Boston Globe journalist who wrote the article, says that Cushing is replacing the traditional library with a $500,000 "learning center" where students will be inundated with digital technology, like the $42,000 they'll be spending on flat-screen TVs that will show Internet data, $20,000 on little study spaces where students can use their laptops, and $10,000 on digital readers (think Amazon's Kindle). Oh, and did I forget to mention the $50,000 coffee center, complete with a $12,000 espresso machine, that will be replacing the reference desk?

So okay. I get it. The future is now, blah blah blah. But really. I hope this does not become a trend because people start to think books are "out of date" or whatever. I don't know how many of you have tried to read books on a computer screen before, but you can only stare at backlit text on a white background for so long before you feel your eyes and your brain start to fry. After all, books on e-readers aren't free (ka-ching!), and not all of them are available. What about rarer texts? Books that aren't available on Kindle or whatever Sony e-reader they're getting? Students will have to use e-books via computer, and that bites.

Plus, I'm sure one or two of those digital readers will have an "accident" with the absolutely-necessary lattes the reference desk-cum-coffee shop will be dispensing. In a room full of electronics. At a high school. SMART.

I don't see why the school couldn't have built on their library's digital resources while still keeping the books around. They claimed they didn't have room for them (in the library). So they gave them all away. It's not like they made money off of getting rid of the books; they already had that money, probably from the ridiculous tuition they charge the families of their students. So what was the point? They really didn't want to think of some way to compromise? That's just sad.

Abel also makes another good point: How many teens do you know who have spent any period of time online without checking their e-mail, IMing, or at least wasting time on some other site? I don't know about you, but that seems pretty much impossible. If they're going to be spending hours reading books via the Internet, they're going to be talking to their buddies and reading or surfing Facebook. End of story.

Perhaps most disturbing to me is that the students didn't seem to care at all. I know that when I was in high school, I took out books all the time. I love to browse the stacks in libraries and bookstores, and I feel really sorry for any future generations (or my own) who won't have that chance. By taking away books you're denying a great resource to any kid who wants to use it--after all, not every student hates to read.

If this turns into some sort of trend, I'm not sure where it will lead us. Yeah, digital media is the future and all that, but books have been around since the 1400s. The printed word has been around for thousands of years. With the development of digital media, what will happen to it? What will happen when literature can be wiped out of a personal library with the click of a mouse?

My red Apple.

So after losing my first iPod I've ever owned after having it for about 3 weeks, I've decided to give myself a second chance. I just ordered another iPod nano online, with a slight discount since apparently B&N is somehow affiliated with Apple (who knew). Yay nine dollars off--that was pretty much the sales tax. Anyway. I feel better about it because I got the (red) one, the kind that gives a part of the proceeds to AIDS relief in Africa, which is cool. I am also wasting time by loading a bunch of my CDs onto my iTunes, and I discovered a string quartet interpretation of Red Hot Chili Peppers songs that Olivia let me put on my computer. It is very strange to hear "Under the Bridge" in classical strains, but I am enjoying it nonetheless (thanks Olivia!).

I'm also thinking of later getting an iPod shuffle to bring to the gym, since I am forbidding myself from bringing the nano there as someone stole my old one there(those naked thieving bastards). The shuffle has a clip on it so it will keep me from setting it down and forgetting it. But that won't happen for at least another couple of weeks when I have an extra fifty bucks lying around (ha).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dancing is fun, and Darcy is sexy.

Two things about yesterday.

1. Zumba is super fun. We danced for pretty much a straight hour. And it wasn't just all old people. There were a few girls I went to high school with (all older) and, oddly enough, the mother of a childhood friend (we did some catching up). But we were moving around so much it didn't really matter who I knew because we didn't have much time to talk.

2. Lost in Austen might be one of the most entertaining and sexiest reincarnations of any Austen creation I have ever seen. Characters were given way more depth and were much more complex (and likable, I found) than in the original novel (except Collins who was even more repulsive, a difficult feat). I have never been more in love with Darcy than in this BBC miniseries and I urge all of you who are interested in men to check out this scene in particular, and I will most likely be dreaming of it for weeks to come:

Also, and I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm in love with Wickham too. I LOVED him.

And a fun surprise about Caroline Bingley. I'm not going to tell you what.