Seton Hill University students enrolled in American Literature used the iBooks highlighting and annotation feature. Students highlighted words they had to look up in one color, passages they were puzzled by in a different color and tracked specific themes in different colors, jotting notes in the margins.

“For instance, they might highlight any word that has to do with nature in one color. This year I thought my students got into literary close reading very quickly, and I often saw students holding their iPads side-by-side, as they compared what each had written about various passages,” said Dennis Jerz, associate professor, English. “One evening, we were exploring what Emerson means when he says the purpose of beauty in nature is that it encourages us to explore our own souls. The class was in little groups, their heads bowed over their iPads. One student got my attention and pointed out the window.

“I turned off the light, and there was a gasp. I could see everyone’s faces in the glow of their iPad screens, and I saw them all look up and glance out the window. What we saw was a fiery sunset, picture-perfect, just filling every window in two walls of the classroom. We didn’t need any extra light. The screens showed us the text, and the screens were bright enough that we could see each other’s faces, so we finished the discussion in darkness, just watching the sunset progress, debating and scrolling through pages of Emerson.”