Print 26 comment(s) - last by tygrus.. on May 5 at 10:03 AM

Researchers found that the Kindle DX is not ready to replace the use of paper or computers in a college environment

There's no doubt that the Amazon Kindle has revolutionized the way many people read books, magazines, and their morning newspaper. E-readers like the Kindle have brought all types of reading material to the user’s fingertips, and now, a college study has confirmed exactly how the Kindle DX in particular has played a role in graduate classes. 

The Kindle DX is a larger version of the standard Kindle. It was announced in May 2009, and features a bigger screen with simple PDF support. It is the thinnest Kindle to date, and has an accelerometer which allows the rotation of pages between landscape and portrait orientations.

Graduate students at the University of Washington participated in a pilot study of the Kindle DX last year where students utilized the e-reader for academic reading instead of textbooks. This is the first long-term study to research the use of e-readers in an educational environment. 

Alex Thayer, study leader and a doctoral student in Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, and Charlotte Lee, co-author and an assistant professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, interviewed 39 first-year graduate students in the University of Washington's Department of Computer Science & Engineering. Thirty-two of the subjects were men and seven were women, all ages 21 to 53 years old. 

"We were not trying to evaluate the device, per se, but wanted to think long term, really looking to the future of e-readers, what are students trying to do, how can we support that," said Lee. "Most e-readers were designed for leisure reading - think romance novels on the beach. We found that reading is just a small part of what students are doing. And when we realize how dynamic and complicated a process this is, it kind of redefines what it means to design an e-reader." 

Over a nine-month period beginning in the fall, Thayer and Lee found that students did most of their reading in fixed locations such as their homes (47 percent), school (25 percent), and coffee shops or offices (11 percent). They also found that the Kindle DX was more likely to replace paper-based reading rather than reading that was done on the internet.  

By the spring semester in 2010, less than 40 percent of the students had quit using the Kindle DX for reading due to issues like its lack of support for note-taking and problems with looking up references, which was easier to do on the computer. In addition, the Kindle DX had negatively affected a study technique called cognitive mapping, which helps readers use physical cues they have seen on the pages to remember where to find a specific section of text. Also, 75 percent of students used paper to take notes as they read. 

Thayer and Lee found that computers are still probably an easier option for students to use while studying, but believe software updates for the Kindle may change that in the future. 

"E-readers are not where they need to be in order to support academic reading," said Lee. But added that updates to address these issues are on the way. "It's going to be sooner than we think." 

Lee even mentioned the possibility of Kindle's that are made for specific disciplines. 

"You can imagine that a historian going through illuminated texts is going to have very different navigation needs than someone who is comparing algorithms," said Lee. 

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By lecanard on 5/3/2011 7:37:44 PM , Rating: 3
I love the Kindle for novels, and would get a DX for academic papers once the software addresses things like notetaking, but for textbooks, flipping between pages rapidly is too important. You don't just read through most textbooks straight through, you jump around to look up information, such as between the questions at the end of the chapter and places in the chapter where you are looking for the answer. Page turning speeds make this painful on the Kindle, and even an LCD tablet or computer doesn't handle this as well as the good old finger stuck in a useful place in the book. You still only turn pages one at a time. They need to make rapid flipping and bookmarking much faster and intuitive before any e-reader can take on textbooks. Kindles are great for sequential reading, and e-ink can refresh faster than you can turn a book's page. I highly recommend them for novels. But just jumping around in a book is harder without physical pages. Even the faster refresh of a tablet only slightly mitigates this fundamental problem.

RE: Unsurprising
By sprockkets on 5/3/2011 7:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, same here. A tablet would work great, say, an Asus transformer.

What? An ipad? F that walled garden sh.

RE: Unsurprising
By someguy123 on 5/3/2011 8:00:18 PM , Rating: 2

The kindle (and devices like it) are very, very useful in terms of portability. I think the kindle would be a perfect portable supplement for students if textbook publishers included a kindle/e-book file with every text book purchase (if they don't already). This way you can easily have a pile of information with you at all times, which would just be impractical, if not impossible to do with textbooks, depending on your workload.

RE: Unsurprising
By Some1ne on 5/4/2011 8:04:45 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, the Kindle is nothing like an academic textbook. Hell, I barely touched my textbooks in college, yet I read novels on my Kindle DX all the time. The two are not at all comparable.

Interesting point about the jumping around, as well. The thing is, when you poke around with your finger to find some specific section that you are interested in you are performing an approximation of a binary search, which is a very efficient way of finding things. You are using what you know about the order and structure of the book to take an approximate guess about where the desired section is, examining the guess, and using that to quickly make new guesses and zero in on the correct section.

The problem is that no comparable interface exists on an e-reader (or even on the PC). You can either scroll through linearly or jump around by manually entering page numbers, which is tedious. But the interesting thing is that implementing a comparable binary-search-like algorithm on an e-reader should be trivial, so it's conceivable that we could see truly useful "flip to the desired section" functionality as soon as someone works out a quick and intuitive interface for the feature. Even something like dedicated "flip forward/back 50%" buttons could work, if people could be made to understand the basic algorithm for using them to quickly jump to any desired position in the text.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

Latest Headlines

Most Popular Articles5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Automaker Porsche may expand range of Panamera Coupe design.
September 18, 2016, 11:00 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
No More Turtlenecks - Try Snakables
September 19, 2016, 7:44 AM
ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment in Children: Problem or Paranoia?
September 19, 2016, 5:30 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki