E-books (Kindle) beginning to enter university in the United States

Friday, May 08, 2009

From an article here in Norwegian. It states that six American universities are working with Amazon to test out the new edition of Kindle with students. The new version has a much larger screen than the previous one in order to make it easier to read.

The first to try it out will be Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and the others are Pace, Princeton, Darden School at University of Virginia and Arizona State.

I'm very much in favour of this. First reason: the weight of a single Kindle vs. lugging around a ton of books. There's no reason not to make use of innovation when the technology has proven itself to be just as convenient as paper. If the Kindle weren't as convenient it would naturally be madness to recommend it over the tried and tested book, but it seems to be good enough to the task. We always see the characters in Star Trek going over documents using an instrument that looks almost exactly the same.

Second reason: using the Kindle makes university a bit less of an ivory tower-like institution and more of an institution connected to the world we live in, as well as makes it easier to study. A Kindle is easy to bring with you anywhere, so even when you're far away from class it's easy to pull it out and study a bit in your spare time, show something interesting to your friends etc. whereas books just don't have that convenience...and it's very obvious when you're studying with a book so it can't be done at a bar or restaurant, but you can do so with the Kindle. Let's say you're waiting for friends at a restaurant and have nothing to do as you order a single drink and wait for them to arrive twenty minutes later. Would you feel more comfortable 1) getting out your glossy ROMAN HISTORY 101 textbook, or 2) a Kindle where no one knows exactly what you're reading?

I can think of one downside: theft. An unwatched Kindle is a much larger target than an unwatched history textbook. Students will have to take extra care to make sure theirs aren't stolen, as one stolen device results in a loss of everything.

One commenter in the article in Norwegian mentions that bringing in the Kindle isn't completely new, because students often make use of portable notebooks to accomplish similar tasks, except that the screen of the Kindle is a real pleasure to read compared to a lit screen.

Det er fantastisk å lese på skjermen på Kindle - jeg vet ikke hva de har gjort, men det er ikke som en dataskjerm, men nesten som å lese på papir. <-- It's fantastic to read on Kindle's screen - I don't know what they've done, but it's not like a computer screen, but almost like reading on paper.


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