A semester-long pilot recently came to an end at Princeton University. Student participants used the Amazon Kindle DX and proved that the device assisted in eliminating paper usage by 50%. It was noted by participants however, that much improvement is still needed in ebook readers for these devices to eventually replace traditional textbooks to successfully assist the student and teacher.
The pilot was launched in the fall to determine if the ereader would reduce the use of paper without affecting the classroom experience. About 50 students in three courses participated in the voluntary project that was managed by Princeton and Amazon.
Specifically, students were enrolled in a civil society undergraduate course, and two graduate-level courses, one in diplomacy and the other in ancient Rome. All course readings were loaded into the Kindle DX. At the end of the pilot, survey data was complete that gave pilot organizers paper usage assessments.
Most appreciated was the Kindle DX’s portability and printing, the students claimed that photocopying documents for courses was significantly less. Some participants however noted that it was still easier to highlight, take notes and flip pages on traditional texts in comparison to the DX.
The students in the diplomacy graduate-level course printed an average of 962 pages for all courses they took during the semester. Those who didn’t receive a Kindle DX because they were auditing the pilot course printed an average of 1,826 pages. The participants in the undergraduate courses printed an average of 762 pages compared to 1,373 pages that were printed from students who took the same class last year.
Not only did the students save on paper, but they also liked:
• Battery life, wireless connection and portability
• Course reading was on one device which made it easier to organize
• Ease of searching for content
• Easy to read screen
Additionally, the students also gave their opinions on what they would like to see improved. These included:
• Better ability to highlight PDF files
• Improve annotation tools
• A folder structure to keep similar readings together for organization
• Improvements on the highlighting function and navigation between documents
It was also noted by participants that the Kindle DX was ideal for certain classes, but not others. From a teaching point of view, professors noted that if the Kindle was used, they would have to modify the way they teach the course, and that PDF navigation and highlighting would need much improvement.
Despite the cons, the Kindle DX succeeded in saving paper. With continued evolution of the Kindle DX, ereaders may be successful in becoming a classroom tool for both students and teachers. Not only will it eliminate paper usage, but it will also provide portability.
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