The Kindle e-book reader has great promise, especially for students. Who wouldn’t want to trade in a bunch of heavy books for a slim electronic device? Amazon partnered with Princeton to see how students would interact with the device. The results are not good. The student’s comments sound vaguely familiar to my own experiences. The Kindle is great as a pleasure book reader, but not so good for academic use. One student in the trial eloquently commented that:
Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs,” he explained. “All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.
One of the loudest complaints seem to center on the inability to easily take notes (which was one of my major gripes). The human factors lesson? Task analysis: learn how the user does it now, and then replicate or improve it, but don’t interfere with it. I can’t beat up on the Kindle too much (I really *want* to like it) because presumably it was not designed for academic use.