May 14, 2010
Kindle Doesn't Cut It As A Classroom Device
The preliminary results are in from a test at the University of Virginia's Darden Business School: 75% to 80% would not recommend the Kindle as a classroom device but 90% would recommend it as a personal reading device. None of the news stories went beyond this basic statement, but I can imagine reasons why the survey came out the way it did. Most personal reading is linear. Most classroom use is not. In law school, at least, it's jumping from parts of the book to others depending on the lesson and what what the instructor wants to emphasize. I have to believe that the situation is the same in a business school setting where there are more graphics, charts, and formulas.
While we're on the subject, the idea of porting textbooks to electronic devices seems simple enough if you treat the content as words on an electronic page. Why not create textbooks that are designed for electronic devices. Bring in multimedia. Why just have the text of Palsgraf v. Long Island when a short movie could illustrate it. Why not have alternative scenarios and ask if they would fall under the negligence standard? Sure, something like that would make a textbook more expensive, but it would also make it more interesting, especially to our digital natives. Then again, there are ways to make cheap little recreations. YouTube is full of them, I'm told. The approach would obviously not work for all subjects. A securities class wouldn't necessarily benefit from from a video of a banker shoveling documents in a briefcase before heading off to the Caymans, or that of an SEC staffer checking out an adult site while working, but there are subjects where it would be appropriate. How about a short scenario of contract negotiations and an exercise asking whether there was a meeting of the minds? Let's see if we can do more than port words. [MG]