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Old 03-01-2011, 05:28 PM   #1
StickMaker
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Kindleization in schools/universities/colleges

"that other Kindle forum" has a good thread going about schools adopting Kindles and getting away from heavy, expensive books that dogs like to eat. That whole idea really turns my crank and I just now sent this email to our Minister of Education with cc to our Canadian Prime Minister and various other legislators:

Hello Alberta Minister of Education Hon. Dave Hancock, QC (PC)

More and more I see reports of e-readers such as Amazon’s famous KINDLE are replacing school text books.

In my humble opinion, as a former educator at college, I think this is a terrific way to go and I hope Alberta schools follow suit very quickly.

I Googled this term:
kindle +"clearwater high school"
and found some excellent hits.
Newspaper report about Clearwater HS at http://www.tampabay.com/news/educati...indles/1099264
Note that the stats re the Kindle mentioned in that article are very different from my $139 Kindle 3; I got a far better one than the one they refer to. Near as I can tell, mine will hold about 3,000 books; a pile 250 feet high; that is a LOT of books.

Having just bought my first Kindle 3, I am truly amazed at what it can do. In fact, I am so excited about it that I am making a website about it and it lives at http://www.sticksite.com/kindle/ and I invite you to take a look.

The Kindle FORUMS are very helpful and this thread talks about a school district in Missouri going that way too:
http://www.kindleboards.com/index.ph...c,55012.0.html

The price of the Kindle has dropped dramatically and may come even lower; I paid $130 + shipping + $30 for a case.

E-books will, without doubt, cost a lot less and for sure are easier to carry around by students AND teachers.

A lot of educators (not all) are, I am sure, well-enough informed about what they teach that they are able to write the material so that it won’t even be necessary to buy e-books. The cost of education would drop significantly and teachers who put out WELL-WRITTEN material could be compensated with some of the savings.

What is Alberta doing to keep up with this trend?
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Old 03-02-2011, 01:08 PM   #2
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I use my kindle for some university texts, however in my opinion it still has a looong way to go till it becomes a real alternative (for studying). The Kindle DX doesn't even offer the same (still limited) PDF capabilities of the K3.

There already took place quite a few tests with the Kindle DX in universities and often students weren't happy at all because to really study a text deeply you usually need to interact with it and that is just not really possible with the Kindle DX. If you just want to read text linear from beginning to end you are fine but when you try to quickly jump from chapter 3 to chapter 42 it quickly gets messy while in class.

So in my opinion the students of Alberta would do well to stick with their textbooks a little bit longer.
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:29 AM   #3
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I agree with you, Verres; my point being that we should look ahead NOW and see where this is going, and PLAN because it will happen, for sure. But as you say, not yet. Thanks for the comment.
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Old 03-04-2011, 10:24 AM   #4
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I agree with a lot of what you're saying.

I'm a history professor here in Canada. I've been using ereader options (mostly PDF and html files of articles and historical sources that students can read/print in whatever format's most appealing) in courses for a while but it's slow going.

Some students don't like the ereaders whether physical or virtual on their laptops). Some books (especially textbooks in the sciences) don't translate well for ereaders, at least not yet. There's a serious format shift going from the large-scale textbook to the small-scale ereader version that will require a lot of changes beginning with authors and editors. And that's assuming that the electronic version's even available here in Canada!

As it stands, it takes a lot of work to put together an electronic reader or textbook, even an anthology of pre-existing sources that you're paying authors for their work. It's stagger, the sheer hassle of getting permissions to republish in the new formats (a surprisingly costly, time-consuming and headache-inducing endeavour for the prof and the staff). We can spend months unsuccessfully trying to acquire rights to put a piece into a one-time use classroom anthology!

Keep an eye out for the implications of bill C-32, here in Canada. Some publishers and some lobby groups (like the inaptly named "Access Copyright") want to squelch the fair use principle for educators. Those that are based in the states also don't have much of a priority for answering requests from individual Canadian universities and schools to e-anthologize an article, chapter or other source, at any price. Some are better than others but are very much tied to a browser-based solution, as with CourseSmart.
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:03 PM   #5
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I completely agree with you, OP. I use my e-reader daily for my English and American Lit degree and I find that I can read for longer, retain more and find relevant quotations I'd otherwise have forgotten about just by doing key word searches. I'm also making and constantly updating revision materials and converting them to .mobi so that I can peruse them in between lectures etc. One of the most wonderful things I can see coming out of this is the opportunity for students and lecturers to post their own learning support materials on-line to share. Swapping seminar notes with a friend of mine really helped me to develop my own ideas and consider alternative viewpoints; I can only imagine how much better my understanding of my subject would be if it was possible to do the same thing on a national and perhaps even international scale. An e-reader isn't essential for that but it would certainly help; like most people I can't read on a screen for long periods of time or take my computer on the bus with me, and my Kindle has already saved me lots of money because I'm no longer printing out hundreds of pages of PDF.

I can see how the Kindle isn't the best tool for every subject but it's great for mine and with improved navigability and (later on) colour it will become much more accessible and useful for other subjects too. I just wish the Kindle and Project Gutenberg had been available to me back when I was in the early stages in my education so I could have devoured all of the wonderful classics I'm now voraciously devouring in my free time!

Last edited by Alanis; 03-04-2011 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:15 PM   #6
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as you research this idea more you'll run across the Kindle experiment at a US east coast college (I think it was on the east coast though it really doesn't matter). The gist of the experiment was there is a looooong way to go before readers are ready as textbook replacements. For novels and literature in general they are great. But when a person begins to need to keep multiple books open at the same time or refer back and forth between sections in a book none of the current readers has the right stuff under the hood.

Of course color is very significant but there needs to be a strong effort at something in the area of "study/research management" apps. I figure the final product will be along the lines of a tabbed browser looking like MS OneNote or even Evernote. Also a touch interface to allow notes but odds are a separate device like the new Asus Eee Note EA-800 as there are times you need a book open during a lecture.

A device like the Entourage Edge might be the ideal form factor. Actually there have been a couple proposed dual display devices. I am betting the final device will be more of a general purpose thingy with dual displays because, well one is not going to be enough for most subjects.

I also know that Pocketbook is actively working on educational use of their readers and refining the software in Ukraine. So look at Pocketbook to be a bigger player in the educational market than many might even suspect right now. They get it that it's all about the software and that is going to dictate the hardware design rather than trying to adapt software to the limitations of a given hardware design.

None of the existing dedicated readers seems all that promising for study, even non-academic research is iffy as I don't know of any that truly work with multiple open apps. You know like a notepad and a few books as well as a browser. Some of the newest multipurpose tablets are promising but you do run into the issue of the limits from a single display. Also in most cases you will really need at least a 12" diagonal in about a 4:3 screen ratio (physical ratio not to be confused with pixels as that has zero to do with screen dimensions) even a 16:10 might be OK as long as the dimensions don't make the screen itself to "skinny".

There have be a number of threads on this topic over the years so you can find a number of discussions here on MR if you sleuth them out. It's a great starting point and this thread is one of the more promising since it's from a different perspective than people who just use their device for novels. Hope you keep it going!!
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:45 AM   #7
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A group of Carnegie Mellon students are creating an app to make textbooks available at low cost to students.

Check it out: http://www.indiegogo.com/ALIPT

I'm interested in contributing and pledge to do so after 25 people contribute to the cause.
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