[Athen] Fwd: E Book Reader question

Laurie Vasquez Vasquez at sbcc.edu
Tue Feb 23 08:56:44 PST 2010

Here is a reference that came out today.

Highlighting E-Readers
February 23, 2010

Even before Apple announced the iPad, higher-education technologists
predicted that e-book readers were on the brink of becoming a common
accessory among college students; last fall, two-thirds of campus CIOs
said they believed e-readers would become an *important platform for
instructional resources* within five years, according to the Campus
Computing Project.

Now, as several major universities finish analyzing data from pilot
programs involving the latest version of the Amazon Kindle, officials
are learning more about what students want out of their e-reader
tablets. Generally, the colleges found that students missed some of the
old-fashioned note-taking tools they enjoyed before. But they also noted
that the shift had some key environmental benefits. Further, a minority
of students embraced the Kindle fairly quickly as highly desirable for
curricular use.
If one clear consensus emerged from the studies that have been
finalized at Princeton University, Case Western Reserve University and
the University of Virginia*s Darden School of Business, it is this:
For students who were given the Kindle DX and tried to use it for
coursework, the inability to easily highlight text was the biggest
lowlight of the experience.

*Because it was difficult to take notes on the Kindle, because PDF
documents could not be annotated or highlighted at all, and because it
was hard to look at more than one document at once, the Kindle was
occasionally a tool that was counter-productive to scholarship,*
Princeton researchers wrote in a summary of their study, released

*Many users thought that the addition of a touch screen and stylus
would make for a much better device,* they wrote, noting that while
the Kindle does allow students to digitally underline text, students did
not like having to type corresponding margin notes on the device*s

The students also wanted it to be easier to navigate among annotated
pages, and wished there was some way to impose a coding system for
annotations, similar to how some students use differently colored
highlighters to organize their annotations in bound books.

Indeed, highlighting and note-taking went hand in hand with another
feature students on multiple campuses considered important: navigation.
Students did not like being unable to have multiple texts open at the
same time.

*When using books as sources to write papers, navigation is extremely
important,* wrote one Princeton student. *I usually take a lot of
notes on the books/articles that I am planning to cite. And when
writing, I just go back and forth.*

Students whose curriculum requires them to organize information culled
from many different sources are particularly concerned with being able
to navigate multiple documents at once, said Michael Koenig, director of
operations at Virginia*s Darden School of Business, which also ran a
Kindle DX pilot program last fall. Students at Darden typically have to
keep track of 125 different business cases in their first quarter alone,
Koenig said, and the Kindle was not always up to the task.

*At the point where you need to highlight and notate in a fairly
high-paced classroom - to be able to move back and forth between
business cases, class readings, your own notations, your own highlights,
your own analysis - It*s just not as flexible or nimble as having your
paper notes or your laptop right there,* he said, adding that the
Kindle was *not quite ready for prime time.*

Students at Case Western, in addition to grumbling about
*implementation of underlining, annotation, and bookmarking,*
found it disorienting that the Kindle did not mark texts by page numbers
in the same way as their bound counterparts, which made it difficult for
them to follow along in class when professors kept instructing students
to turn to a particular page. Their most frequent complaint, according
to a summary provided to Inside Higher Ed, was that they could not
*flip* randomly through pages of a text - echoing the comments of
some Princeton students who missed the ability to easily *skim*

Of course, there were students on each campus who took to the Kindle
more strongly than others. Lev Gonick, the chief information officer at
Case Western Reserve, referred to these more enthusiastic adopters as
*power users,* and said they actually liked the annotation tools
on the Kindle DX. Likewise, Koenig said some Darden students were savvy
enough to successfully juggle the trappings of business school on their
e-readers. *We had some of our tech-aggressive M.B.A.*s use it in
the classroom successfully, and some even liked it for technical
classes,* he said.

But those students only comprised the top 15 percent or so of the
Darden sample; most students fell in the next tier of users, who were
not quite as comfortable navigating the device. That is to say, even if
the device was *ready for prime time* after all, the vast majority
of students were not keen to use it.

Koenig did note that the very aspect of the Kindle that at times made
it inferior to a series of texts spread out on a desk proved
advantageous in other contexts - such as traveling. While keeping track
of hundreds of texts, he explained, business students do a lot of
traveling for internship and job interviews. Thus, being able to fit the
equivalent of reams upon reams of study materials on a 10-ounce gadget
is a boon for the scholar-on-the-go. *If I*m taking off Wednesday
for Thursday and Friday interviews, I don*t need to go through four
class binders on the plane in order to not fall behind,* he said.

The Princeton researchers also pointed out the green angle: Students
who used the Kindle for academic purposes printed out half as many
assignments as those who didn*t.

But generally, students were more apt to use their Kindles for
recreational reading - for which they don*t have to worry about
annotation - while sticking to dead-tree texts for schoolwork. Whereas
75 percent of Darden students said they would not recommend the Kindle
for other aspiring M.B.A.*s, about 90 percent said they would
recommend it to family and friends for casual reading. *So they*re
confirming for Amazon what Amazon already knew,* Koenig said, *which
is that they*ve created a very good consumer product.* Scholarly
aid, not so much.

Gonick, of Case Western Reserve, remained optimistic about the
prospects of the e-reader in higher education.

*Asking real students about their experiences with a first generation
e-reader reminds me of my first Kaypro in 1983. I could imagine its
transformational capabilities, I just couldn't experience it myself in
the first generation product,* Gonick wrote in an e-mail.

*Next generation smartpads [sic], including the iPad and the Edge
from Entourage, are true multi-functional devices that to varying
degrees carry forward the strengths of the Kindle DX while adding
additional features,* he said. *I believe higher education
represents an important market for smartpad manufacturers because of our
demographic, market size, and trend setting nature of our service lines.
Stay tuned, the fun has just begun.*

>>> Prof Norm Coombs <norm.coombs at gmail.com> 2/22/2010 5:33 PM >>>

Hi ATHEN experts!!
I got this question about e-readers. I have no idea whether any of
are good enough for a school to buy or whether they are all real
Please answer Bonnie directly or, if you reply here, I'll forward it to

>Delivered-To: norm.coombs at gmail.com

>Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=pass (google.com: domain of

>Bonnie_Robinson at umit.maine.edu designates as permitted

>sender) smtp.mail=Bonnie_Robinson at umit.maine.edu

>Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 12:58:18 -0500

>Subject: E Book Reader question

>X-Mailer: FirstClass 9.1 (build 9.221)

>X-FC-SERVER-TZ: 15729388

>To: marisol.miranda at gmail.com, Norm.coombs at gmail.com

>From: "Bonnie Robinson" <Bonnie_Robinson at umit.maine.edu>

>X-DCC-UniversityOfMaineSystem-Metrics: chert.its.maine.edu; whitelist

>X-MailScanner-Information: Please contact the ISP for more


>X-UmaineSystem-MailScanner-ID: o1MHvhB6003157

>X-MailScanner: Found to be clean

>X-MailScanner-From: bonnie_robinson at umit.maine.edu


1267466274.96919 at XTP78EM4N1fz9L9aZVLb8A


>Hello Marisol and Norm,


>I have taken a number of the EASI webinars and courses from you over


>past couple of years and I'm hoping you can help me with a question I

>received from a colleague.


>Our library is considering the purchase of e-book readers. They want


>be sure they look at all the options before a decision is made.


>They feel that Kindle is a definite no and that, so far, the iPad is

>getting good press from the point of view of accessibility. Do either


>of you have any info on Nook (Barnes and Noble) or the Sony Ebook


>Could you provide any thoughts

>on which e-book readers would be good to purchase?


>Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.


>Bonnie Robinson

>University of Maine

>Center for Community Inclusion & Disability Studies

>5717 Corbett Hall

>Orono, ME 04469

>207-581-1084 ext. 1384


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Once you choose hope, anything's possible. Christopher Reeve

Norman Coombs norm.coombs at gmail.com
CEO EASI Equal Access to Software and Information
phone (949) 855-4852 (NOTE pacific time zone)

Athen mailing list
Athen at athenpro.org

More information about the athen-list mailing list