Michael St. Jean ● Think (Ed + Tech)

Assistant Superintendent, Academic Data and Technology.

Electronic Textbook: Nexus 7, Moon+ Reader Pro, and Text to Speech

By 10:31 AM , , , ,

I once had the use of an iPad with my previous job. After leaving the position, I turned in the iPad and became tablet-less (is that a word?). To fill the mobile content consumption void, I bought myself a Google Nexus 7. Did I miss the iPad? Not at all. Rather, I very much preferred the smaller form factor, lower cost, and customization of Google's Android tablet. 

Within the Android ecosystem, my breakout app quickly became Moon+ Reader Pro. Moon+ Reader Pro's  description in Google Play is disarmingly simple:  
Your finger ebook reader with fantastic reading experience. This is a new designed book reader with powerful controls & full functions, supports epub, pdf, mobi, chm, cbr, cbz, umd, fb2, txt, html, rar, zip or OPDS formats.

Among Moon+ Reader Pro's wealth of features are two specific supports that make this app ideal for the 21st century classroom and as a professional resource: 
  • Moon+ Reader will accept PDF documents. This means all those manuals, guides, whitepapers and other documents we have collected from around the Internet can be transferred to, or opened directly by, Moon+ Reader for offline viewing. This however does not separate it from most PDF viewer apps.
  • Moon+ Reader Pro is fully integrated into Android's text to speech engine, meaning it will read all our PDF documents back to us. 
As a professional resource this combination is invaluable. I had gathered a large collection of whitepapers  downloaded from the Internet with every intention of reading, but never had the time to actually sit and read them. With my Nexus 7 sitting next to me in the passenger seat of my car, and Moon+ Reader with its text to speech capabilities, I found I could listen to whitepapers while I drove to and from work.

This has proven an extremely effective use of time and technology. I've since added Moon+ Reader Pro to my Android-based smartphone sharing the same capability but with even greater portability

For the student, combine the low cost of the Nexus 7 (compared to the iPad), the low cost of Moon+ Reader Pro, the app's multiple and open document format support, text to speech integration with follow-along highlighting and you have an electronic textbook core foundation. This is actually something I'd like to begin piloting at the high school.

On a side note, I do find Google's default text to speech voice somewhat artificial and recommend trying from the Google Play the SVOX Classic Text to Speech Engine or  Ivona Text to Speech. Either of these engines offers multiple, more natural sounding voices for use with android tablets or smartphones.

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