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Monday, February 22, 2010

Princeton U. - Report on Kindle pilot program

Here is the abstract from the executive summary of Princeton's experiment with the Kindle DX e-reader. The full report is available from the program's website.

"In the Fall of 2009, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at Princeton conducted a pilot program using electronic readers (e-readers) in a classroom setting. The pilot was conducted with three broad goals. One was to reduce the amount of printing and photocopying done in the three pilot courses. The second was to determine if using this technology in the classroom could equal (or better) the typical classroom experience where more traditional readings were used. The third sought to explore the strengths and weaknesses of current e-reader technology to provide suggestions for future devices.
E-reader technology offered the promise of delivering a large number of digitized documents on a lightweight device with a long battery life, and a display that mimicked the reflective qualities of actual paper. The consumer market in e-readers had already proved it was possible to read on these devices; we sought to see if they could be useful in higher education by conducting a pilot using e-readers in several courses.
Three courses were selected for the pilot, involving 3 faculty members, and 51 students. The e-reader used in the pilot was the Amazon Kindle DX.
The goal of printing less in the pilot courses was achieved: pilot participants printed just over half the amount of sheets than control groups who did not use e-readers. The classroom experience was somewhat worsened by using e-readers, as study and reference habits of a lifetime were challenged by device limitations. This pilot suggests that future e-book manufacturers may wish to pay more attention to annotation tools, pagination, content organization, and in achieving a more natural “paper-like” user experience. In summary, although most users of the Kindle DX were very pleased with their “reading” experiences with the Kindle, they felt that the “writing” tools fell short of expectations, and prevented them from doing things easily accomplished with paper."

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