Edco’s e-books could make textbooks a thing of the past

24 May 2012

The full curriculum of post-primary schoolbooks for the next school year are available as e-books, as Edco now plans to tackle primary school editions.

The Educational Company of Ireland (Edco) has completed a five-year project to make schoolbooks on every core post-primary subject for the 2012/2013 academic year available as e-books.

Around 4,000 students across Ireland already use Edco’s platform of more than 100 e-book titles, featuring 8,000 interactive resources, which can be accessed online or offline by installing Edco’s e-books software on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.

The use of e-books in education was first piloted with selected schools over a two-year period and, for the past 18 months, Edco has been rolling out its e-books to secondary schools around the country.

Entirely produced by Irish authors, designers and developers, these e-books can help create a more interactive learning environment with videos, e-tests, animations and podcasts. Students can take notes, highlight and search text, and create bookmarks, enabling them to personalise their educational resources as they progress through the exam cycle.

“Our e-book initiative is the culmination of extensive work over the past five years with teachers, pupils, developers and designers,” said Martina Harford, chief executive of Edco. “Uniquely, we have developed a system which can be used by the children on a range of hardware, so they can work off a laptop in school and jump onto their parents’ iPad in the evening and carry on with their interactive learning.”

While studying their school’s key curriculum, interacting with the e-books will also improve schoolchildren’s ICT skills, fostering a generation equipped to fill the gap in the technology workforce – which is already benefiting from the e-books’ development. “Our e-books department is one of the busiest areas of the business and we’re currently expanding rapidly and recruiting more technology specialists for the team,” said Edco’s sales and marketing manager, Julie Glennon.

E-books not only lighten the load in children’s schoolbags, but they also represent cost savings for parents and schools, and, so far, feedback has been positive. “The e-book system has enhanced both learning and teaching in our school,” said Adrian Dungan, deputy principal at St Gerard’s School in Bray, Co Wicklow. “We are especially impressed by the interactivity of the Edco e-books. Pupils and teachers have taken very quickly to the new technology.”

Bolstered by the success of this initiative, Edco now plans to expand the platform to include primary schoolbooks.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.