Portable electronic book readers debut in Dayton

Portable electronic book readers will make their classroom debut next week at Resurrection Catholic School in Dayton, Ohio. A pilot program calls for electronic books to be used for every subject in a fourth grade classroom for a minimum of one grading period.

Electronic books are smaller, cheaper and simpler than laptop computers but give users the ability to create original text, graphics and audio and import encrypted electronic files from third-party providers, according to Eric Walusis, president of Dayton-based Searchlight eBook Training Inc., which is attempting to bring electronic books into the mainstream. Searchlight has teamed with Burlington, N.J.-based Franklin Electronic Publishers Inc., a electronic book provider, for the pilot program.

"The pilot classroom in Dayton will be the first e-book classroom in the nation and probably in the whole world," Walusis said. "The entire classroom will be equipped with the devices, and they will be used all day and for every subject."

Students will have continuous access to the devices, which weigh about 22 ounces and can be transported easily outside of school. "The physical mobility allows the educational process to grow and branch out," he said. "It opens new doors for kids and the way they learn."

Electronic books are capable of holding thousands of pages of information and can download data from the Internet or through a docking station, similar to the process involved in 3Com Corp.'s Palm Pilot technology. The devices cost between $300 and $500.

The Resurrection Catholic School will use the Rocket eBook, developed by Mountain View Calif.-based NuvoMedia Inc., a provider of networking infrastructure to users who publish, distribute, purchase and read content over the World Wide Web.

The goal of electronic book technology is to provide a paperless environment for its users in education, government and the private sector, Walusis said. "The migration from paper to a digital solution is not a new idea, but we want eBook to be used as the core technology to provide these solutions."

More information about electronic books is available at www.ebooktraining.com and www.rocket-ebook.com.

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