May 07, 2013
San Jose State Philosphy Faculty Reject Electronic Lecture Courseware
The Philosophy Department at San Jose State University is resisting the integration of a MOOC/online lecture as part of their class offerings. The University signed a contract with edX (a joint project of MIT and Harvard) to provide additional course content in the form of videotaped lectures. The Philosophy Department was asked to add Justice, a survey class developed by Harvard Professor Michael Sandel for edX. The Department more or less said “no” to the University and provided its reasoning in an open letter to Sandel.
There were several reservations expressed. One emphasized the lack of interaction between student and media:
….[W]e believe that having a scholar teach and engage his or her own students in person is far superior to having those students watch a video of another scholar engaging his or her students. Indeed, the videos of you lecturing to and interacting with your students is itself a compelling testament to the value of the in-person lecture/discussion.
Another is the potential for creating a two-tiered educational system. One would be for those who can afford to attend a college staffed by live faculty and another educational experience consisting of faculty facilitating videotaped lectures as part of their courseware. One presumes the latter would be less expensive for the student, otherwise what is the point?
A lot of the discussion about law student debt ranging in the $130,000 to $150,000 or more range somehow never raises the fact that the average total cost of attendance for first-time, full-time students living on campus and paying in-state tuition was $20,100 at public 4-year institutions and $39,800 at private nonprofit 4-year institutions. That lurks underneath the costs of a law degree. I have a funny feeling that a student would take a less expensive option if it were available and the credits viable.
I can understand the concern as trustees and legislatures are always looking for ways to cut costs at their institutions. Reducing the need for live faculty is one way to accomplish that if electronic courseware does not significantly diminish course outcomes [read grades]. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education notes that a pilot program at SJSU using an electronic version of an introductory course in electrical engineering showed students passing at a much higher rate than those in traditional sections. The article does not explain that result. I could imagine concepts in electrical engineering are less subjective than to those in philosophy. What works in one field may not work in another. It’s hard to make a judgment without more comparative information.
The letter raises diversity issues as another objection:
…[W]hat kind of message are we sending our students if we tell them that they should best learn what justice is by listening to the reflections of the largely white student population from a privileged institution like Harvard? Our very diverse students gain far more when their own experience is central to the course and when they are learning from our own very diverse faculty, who bring their varied perspectives to the content of courses that bear on social justice.
Let me see. What kind of assumptions go into that statement? Harvard is such a rarified atmosphere that class participants have no (or not enough) practical observations in a class on justice at SJSU? Or is it that presumed privilege distorts a participant’s views? I don’t know much about the circumstances of the Harvard graduate student body. I wouldn’t assume everyone there comes from a “privileged” background. I wouldn’t presume to know what kind of experiences anyone at Harvard may have had with authority before they got to the classroom.
Technology changes things. Just ask the music, movie, publishing, and newspaper businesses among others. They’re still creating and selling media despite the fact that their business models have shrunk their infrastructures. They may not be as profitable as they once were, but they are still out there. Education is the next industry ripe for change and I for one look forward to it. Give me reasons (with information to back them up) why the new approaches aren’t viable and I may be more sympathetic to preserving the old ones.
March 13, 2013
California Considering Online Class Substitutes For Credit
California is considering legislation that would allow college students to substitute out of state online courses for oversubscribed classes at state institutions. This would give a big boost to the value of commercial and free classes if the legislation passes. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the legislation may be introduced as early as today. It would allow for a faculty commission to determine the 50 most oversubscribed classes and which online substitutes would be eligible for credit.
The plan is not without criticism. The article quotes Professor Lillian Taiz who is the president of the association that represents faculty at California State:
The alternative to the bill, of course, is funding more physical seats and more faculty members. California is one of the growing numbers of cash-strapped states. That option is not likely to occur. I think the plan is viable if the quality control implied by the faculty commission works as planned. I would think other states in a similar position with their colleges may look at California’s experience and adopt a similar program if there is a level of success. The idea is to provide credentialed education, not maintain the faculty status quo. [MG]
“There’s a sort of mania for massive online courses right now,” she said, “but there’s no good evidence that they work for all students.” She also criticized the Legislature, saying it had imposed budget cuts that “have sucked public higher education dry of resources” and was now proposing to “give away the job of educating our students.”
February 01, 2013
Pew: Americans Like Technology in Libraries
The availability of free computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as a vital service of libraries. In a national survey of Americans ages 16 and older:
- 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a “very important” service libraries provide.
- 80% say reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries.
- 77% say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries.
Moreover, a notable share of Americans say they would embrace even wider uses of technology at libraries such as:
- Online research services allowing patrons to pose questions and get answers from librarians: 37% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use an “ask a librarian” type of service, and another 36% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- Apps-based access to library materials and programs: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- Access to technology “petting zoos” to try out new devices: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 34% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- GPS-navigation apps to help patrons locate material inside library buildings: 34% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- “Redbox”-style lending machines or kiosks located throughout the community where people can check out books, movies or music without having to go to the library itself: 33% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 30% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- “Amazon”-style customized book/audio/video recommendation schemes that are based on patrons’ prior library behavior: 29% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 35% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
I’m intrigued by some of these such as the desire for GPS-navigation apps. I suspect the day can’t be far off when bar codes are either replaced or supplemented by RFD chips embedded in books. The technology may allow not only locating the book on the shelf but circulating them as well. Then there is the ability to find mis-shelved books via tracking technology.
Americans certainly see libraries as forward-thinking when implementing technology. In that regard, the American Library Association recently honored five libraries for technology based cutting-edge services. Some of these are quite novel. For example, the Goethe-Institut New York Library teamed up with the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science to develop German Traces NYC. The app overlays augmented reality images over images from a mobile device’s camera to show German cultural heritage in New York. Personally, I’m holding out for Google Glasses to take advantage of this kind of technology. I’ve been keen on the product coming to market since I first heard of the concept.More on the awards for other cutting-edge technology in libraries is available from ALA here. [MG]
January 02, 2013
MOOCs And The Future Of Education
One of my regular topics includes MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. These are available online either for free or for a nominal charge. The potential for MOOCs to change how education is delivered in the United States is pretty open at this point. One article, The End of Universities by Nathan Harden presented a few predictions, some of which are interesting and others I’m not so sure about.
One idea is that what we call a college degree earned over four years of on site will morph into certified knowledge specializations by picking and choosing online course content from name brand institutions:
MIT is the first elite university to offer a credential for students who complete its free, open-source online courses. (The certificate of completion requires a small fee.) For the first time, students can do more than simply watch free lectures; they can gain a marketable credential—something that could help secure a raise or a better job. While edX won’t offer traditional academic credits, Harvard and MIT have announced that “certificates of mastery” will be available for those who complete the online courses and can demonstrate knowledge of course material. The arrival of credentials, backed by respected universities, eliminates one of the last remaining obstacles to the widespread adoption of low-cost online education. Since edX is open source, Harvard and MIT expect other universities to adopt the same platform and contribute their own courses. And the two universities have put $60 million of their own money behind the project, making edX the most promising MOOC venture out there right now.
Parts of the article discuss classes with 100,000 students. This isn’t a projection. It’s happened apparently with Professor Andrew Ng’s Stanford class in machine learning in the fall of 2011. Obviously not everyone in Professor Ng’s class was graded in the traditional sense. But that got me thinking about the mechanics for a more institutionalized version of a MOOC. Harden made these points:
Students can intermingle with faculty and with each other over a kind of higher-ed social network. Streaming lectures may be accompanied by short auto-graded quizzes. Students can post questions about course material to discuss with other students. These discussions unfold across time zones, 24 hours a day. In extremely large courses, students can vote questions up or down, so that the best questions rise to the top. It’s like an educational amalgam of YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook.
While I don’t think much of something described as an amalgam of YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook as an alternative to a traditional college experience, I agree that undergraduate programs are as likely to leave a student in enormous debt as much as graduate school. There has to be a better, cheaper alternative. MOOCs with a credential at the end may be that alternative. Formal alternatives will require standards for those credentials and standards have associated costs. Conceptual subjects are not necessarily amenable to auto-graded quizzes. I can imagine some courses with thousands of students requiring multiple graduate teaching assistants, perhaps hundreds of them, to work with groups of students answering questions and grading papers and exams. I can’t imagine a higher-ed social network filling all of that need. I’m interested in how schools might plan for this kind of eventuality.College, graduate school, law school and the like are becoming out of reach to many due to cost and capacity issues. MOOCs may be able to replace that structure ultimately but it’s going to take an awful lot of thoughtful planning. [MG]
September 19, 2012
Publishers To Appeal Georgia State e-Reserve CaseAs readers know, the recent Georgia State e-reserve case was decided mostly in favor of Georgia State. It was announced earlier this month that the publishers are appealing. I refer you to the cogent analysis by Kevin Smith at the Scholarly Communications @ Duke blog on that. He has links to the press releases by the Association of American Publishers and the joint statement by Oxford, Cambridge, and Sage on the decision and the forthcoming appeal. Here are some quotes from them with my short comments.
From the AAP statement:
If left uncorrected, these and other errors will encourage educational institutions across the country to engage in massive infringement of copyright at a great cost to the entire academic community. Publishers, authors, faculty and students are members of an educational ecosystem in which the creators and users of learning materials play complementary roles. Publishers identify outstanding authors and editors, transform manuscripts into leading scholarly works and produce, distribute and market the essential tools of teaching and learning. Publishers and authors must have the incentives to continue contributing to this ecosystem.
We are optimistic that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will provide a more balanced view of the fair use exception to copyright as applied to the use of digital content in education.
If uncorrected unchanged, libraries will have a better idea of the parameters of fair use in using electronic course materials compiled on site for integration in campus courseware. I thought the Judge in the case went into excruciating detail on determining which works were covered by fair use and how she came to that conclusion. None of it seemed outrageous or out of line in an area of law where congress and the courts seem to dance around the parameters of fair use.
From the joint statement:
This case had the potential to mark a significant first step toward addressing the need for clarity around issues of copyright in the context of higher education, where current practices around fair use in a digital environment vary widely and could benefit from sound judicial guidance. Our hope was that the District Court would provide that guidance.
Instead, the Court’s rulings, culminating in the August injunction decision, shift radically from long-accepted fair use principles and introduce, among other errors, unsustainable policies regarding the proportion of a work not readily available for digital licensing that can be digitally copied without restriction. We have no alternative but to appeal, to protect our authors’ copyrights and advocate for a balanced and workable solution
The case did mark a significant first step toward addressing clarity. You just wound up on the losing side. You asked the Court for guidance and you received it. Maybe it wasn’t guidance you really wanted, but something else. I don’t believe the Judge gave the library carte blanche to copy anything it wanted willy-nilly. The Court bent over backwards to balance the equities. The statement sounds more of a complaint that the troublesome doctrine of fair use exists at all. I look forward to the briefs and the oral arguments. [MG]
September 10, 2012
Law Schools and MOOCs
I’ve been reading a few articles lately on Massive Open, Online Courses, or MOOCs. These are vehicles for universities and other institutions to give away the knowledge from the classroom, albeit without any credit for taking the class. Credits are possible for a fee, apparently. That’s the impression from this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Inside Higher Ed reports on a slightly different twist to that model. The article, written by Dean Dad, a pseudonym for a community college dean, wonders whether the model of taking the class and paying for the test at an accredited institution will impact classroom instruction. My reaction is sure it will, especially if MOOCs get organized and sophisticated.
Let’s think about how these developments can impact law schools. A third article describes two classes at the University of Dayton School of Law that include distance learning and the integration of social media in law practice. One class is called Technology in Law and it’s designed to immerse students in digital lawyering. This kind of instruction has been the basis for many a CLE class in the past. It’s interesting that a school is picking up on topics such as this to prepare students for contemporary practice. I would assume that other schools are thinking about teaching this kind of subject for credit. Some of this may even show up online.
One other impact that MOOCs might have on law schools is the presentation of extensive law course content on Internet in a way described at the undergraduate level. I don’t think such a development would get to the point of take a law course online and pay for the exam. The certifications and requirements that schools have to meet to prepare graduates for the bar would preclude this. There would be several benefits, however, to putting up an entire semester of, say, contracts lectures online.
One would be the very point of MOOCs: to impart knowledge. The second would be to inform potential law students exactly how these classes are taught. No one could say "had I known how tedious 14 weeks of this stuff was I never would have spent the money." The third possibility is something I’ll call PreLE. Potential students may learn something by studying the content before they get to law school, making the actual class work that much easier as they might acquire basic knowledge of the subject before taking it. The text book may become less essential given that the subject case law is available free on the web from multiple sources. A law related MOOC isn’t law school, but the information would be useful at a lot of levels.Many law schools put up material on YouTube. Most of it is either promotional or one-off events such as symposiums or annual lectures. There are the occasional instructional videos that impart ten minutes or so of administrative law. There are even a few complete lectures on legal topics. There are no full courses, at least none that I can find. If MOOCs are starting to affect undergraduate education, well, there will be a time sooner or later when they will affect graduate level classes as well. If law schools won’t dive in, somebody will. And why not? [MG]
August 27, 2012
E-Textbook Study Shows Promising But Mixed Results For Mass Use
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a study conducted by Internet2 that had tested the use of e-textbooks by students at major universities. The faculty and students used textbooks provided by McGraw-Hill and Courseload to deliver the content to students. Students were charged a materials fee rather than requiring them to purchase a book. The major findings of the study included:
- Only a minority of users elected to purchase a paper copy (12%).
- The lower cost of an eTextbook was considered the most important factor for students considering future purchase of an eText.
- The portability of eTexts also ranked very high as a factor leading to future purchase.
- Other important factors in future eText purchases included that it should be accessible without an internet connection and available throughout a student’s academic career, not just for a semester.
- Difficult readability of the text (e.g., difficult zoom feature) was mentioned numerous times by students as well as lack of native functionality on tablets such as the iPad.
- Faculty, for the most part, did not report using the enhanced eText features (sharing notes, tracking students, question/answer, additional links, etc.) and indicated the need for additional training.
- Because faculty did not use the enhanced features students saw little benefit from the eText platform’s capability of promoting collaboration with other students or with the professor.
The report seems to indicate that the implementation of e-textbooks still has a way to go before students are completely comfortable with them. As much as the students were enthusiastic about saving money and taking advantage of the perceived convenience of e-textbooks, everyone has to buy into the concept to make the delivery system work. We’ve all heard how online textbooks can utilize interactive and collaborative features for a class. It seems as if most faculty members in the study did not use these features which left the student users wanting. This may have been a training issue. One other major point is that despite being available on multiple platforms and devices, the smallest of these, smart phones, were less than optimal devices for content delivery. Of course, we wouldn’t know any of this without actually testing the impact of content, utility, and delivery systems on real students in real courses.
The full study is available here, and worth a read by anyone contemplating using e-textbooks in a production environment. [MG]
August 13, 2012
GSU Wins Again In E-Reserve Case
Judge Orinda D. Evans issued an order on Friday addressing the plaintiff publishers’ requests for relief in the Georgia State University electronic reserve copyright case. The publishers filed the proposed order and memorandum of law 20 days after the Court had found the University infringed on 5 of the 126 works at issue. They had sought strict limits on the size of an excerpt that may be used:
4. constitute a decidedly small excerpt in accordance with the following criteria:
a. if from a book that is not divided into chapters or contains fewer than ten chapters and for which a license for digital academic use is available, do not exceed ten (10) percent of the pages in the Work; or
b. if from a book that contains ten or more chapters and for which a license for digital academic use is available, do not exceed one (1) chapter; or
c. if, after a reasonable investigation that shall at a minimum include consulting both the copyright owner and its authorized agent (such as Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.), GSU determines that the digital excerpt cannot be licensed or purchased for use on GSU Electronic Course Systems, and that the excerpt is sufficiently small so as not to cause actual or potential market harm to the Work;
Judge Evans rejected this as well as the request that the publishers have access to various GSU systems for the next three years to audit compliance. Her rationale is that the number of infringements was few in relation to the claims presented and that GSU had a good faith belief that the use of the infringing works was fair use. Rather, the Judge ordered declarative relief:
Access to excerpts shall be limited by a passcode or password to only the students enrolled in the course, and then only for the term of the course. Students must be prohibited by stated policy from distributing copies to others. They must be reminded of the limitations of the copyright laws each time they access excerpts on ERES. Each chapter or the excerpt must fill a demonstrated, legitimate purpose in the course curriculum and must be narrowly tailored to accomplish that purpose.
Judge Evans noted that the use of 18.52 percent of a musical score by Franz Liszt where electronic permissions were not available did pass a fair use analysis, though that amount was likely close to the upper limit. Her point was fair use analysis had to be made on a case by case method. If the publishers were seeking something akin to the CONTU guidelines, Judge Evans did not deliver. The publishers’ proposed order reserved the right to appeal any denial of its terms. I would expect the 11th Circuit will be docketing this case in the very near future. It looks good, so far, for GSU. The Court found that the University was entitled to attorneys’ fees as the prevailing party in the case. That should frost the plaintiffs and the Copyright Clearance Center which motivated the claims against GSU and funded the litigation.
More commentary is available from the Chronicle of Higher Education and Kevin Smith’s blog post at Duke University. Both have links to Judge Evans’ Order. The plaintiffs' rejected order and memorandum is available through the following links: Download GSU 426-1 (memo) and Download GSU 426-2 (order). [MG]
May 15, 2012
A Quick Take On the Georgia State e-Reserve Case
I’ve read the decision in the case of Cambridge University Press et al. v. Becker, et al. The case is essentially about whether placing items on the e-reserve system at Georgia State University violates the copyright laws. Judge Orinda D. Evans conducted a methodical analysis of the copyright laws, compared it to the plaintiff publishers’ rights in their works, the four factors that underpins the fair use defense, and the conduct of the faculty and library at Georgia State University in utilizing these works. As the judge stated at the very end of the opinion “The truth is that fair use principles are notoriously difficult to apply.” That hard truth did not stop Judge Evans in any event.
The plaintiff publishers brought claims of infringement in 99 works. Georgia State was found to infringe in the use of 5 of the titles. Whatever the damages may be in this case will have to wait for another proceeding in the case. The judge weighed the first factor involving the purpose and character of the use and noted that Georgia State is a non-profit educational institution. That helped distinguish the case from other litigation where commercial course pack aggregators had been found liable.
The second factor invokes the nature of the copyrighted work. Judge Evans found this factor weighed in favor of Georgia State as the excerpts from books were informational non-fiction in nature rather than purely creative. Judge Evans cited Supreme Court precedent for the proposition that some works deserved more protection than others. The more creative the work, the more protection it deserved, along with the converse, less creative publications are farther from the core of intended copyright protection.
The third factor, the amount and substantiality of the portion used compared to the original work, was a bit more difficult. Factors the Court considered included the purpose of the use, the amount taken, and whether the use had any impact on the market for the works. This is where the classroom guidelines came into play. The source of these is the memorialization of an agreement between academics and publishers as to the amount of a work that may be used without permission. They are contained in an appendix to a House Report which is part of the legislative history to the 1976 Copyright Act.
The publishers characterized the limitations in the report as a bright-line maximum allowable limit for use. The Court rejected this, noting that the Guidelines represented a minimum statement of quantitative copying, citing statements in the body of the Report to that effect. The next part addressed the parties disputing what defines the book. The publishers wanted only the text where Georgia State argued for the entire work. The Court agreed with Georgia State on this one. The Court reserved stating what amount of use was allowable until it considered the fourth factor, covering the impact on the market.
The judge framed this as market substitution. The plaintiffs argued that the ability to license the works for academic use through the Copyright Clearance Center places the analysis of the fourth factor in their favor. The Court did not agree completely with this. She cited shortcomings in the evidence that licenses for some of the works were even available to Georgia State. At the same time she noted that unpaid use of the copyrighted work did have some effect on the value of the copyright to its owner. Judge Evans declined to take an absolute position on market substitution. It depends on a lot of factors, including the conduct of other actors in the same circumstances.
The publishers argued that a reduction in licensing payments could cripple them financially, possibly causing them to go out of business. She called that position “glib.” Judge Evans stated:
In fact, permissions income is not a significant percentage of Plaintiffs' overall revenues. Plaintiffs' 2009 rights and permissions income from all sources (including corporate and other commercial uses) was nine-tenths of one percent of Plaintiffs' average 2009 revenues of $169,268,000. Plaintiffs' 2009 permissions income relating only to academic book and journal permissions (APS and ECCS) was only .0024--less than one quarter of one percent—of revenues. Plaintiffs' 2009 permissions income from ECCS was only .0005 of overall revenues--five one-hundredths of one percent—of revenues.
* * * *
In summary, there is no persuasive evidence that Plaintiffs' ability to publish high quality scholarly books would be appreciably diminished by the modest relief from academic permissions payments which is at issue in this case. There certainly is no evidence that a modest reduction would impact the desire or the ability of academic authors to publish new works. Making small free excerpts available to students would further the spread of knowledge.
The Court summarized the effect of the four factors and then issued its own guidelines as to what is acceptable use by a non-profit educational institution:
Where a book is not divided into chapters or contains fewer than ten chapters, unpaid copying of no more than 10% of the pages in the book is permissible under factor three. The pages are counted as previously set forth in this Order. In practical effect, this will allow copying of about one chapter or its equivalent. Where a book contains ten or more chapters, the unpaid copying of up to but no more than one chapter (or its equivalent) will be permissible under fair use factor three. Excerpts which fall within these limits are decidedly small, and allowable as such under factor three. Access shall be limited only to the students who are enrolled in the course in question, and then only for the term of the course. Students must be reminded of the limitations of the copyright laws and must be prohibited by policy from distributing copies to others. The chapter or other excerpt must fill a demonstrated, legitimate purpose in the course curriculum and must be narrowly tailored to accomplish that purpose. Where the foregoing limitations are met factor three will favor fair use, i.e., will favor Defendants. Otherwise factor three will favor Plaintiffs.
The rest of the opinion analyzes each book and excerpt used compared to the Court’s view of the fair use test. The Court also concludes that the University Copyright policy in place encouraged violation in some situations by not identifying restrictions such as using only one chapter rather than multiple excerpts from a single work.
The outcome of this case is not cut and dried for fair use of educational materials by libraries by any means. First of all, it applies to non-profit academic libraries in the Northern District of Georgia. Other courts confronted with the same issue may adopt Judge Evan’s reasoning given that there aren’t many opinions on the subject. I can’t believe, though, that there will be a proliferation of them. The opinion states that the plaintiff publishers were recruited by the Copyright Clearance Center and the Association of American Publishers. The two organizations are fronting the costs of the litigation.
I assume this was perceived as a test case to limit the reach of fair use in academics. The rejection of the Classroom Guidelines as a maximum must have come as a major disappointment to the plaintiffs. Libraries, on the other hand, should compare their copyright policies to the discussion of the Georgia State policy. Georgia State did argue that their policy was conservative compared to other universities. Judge Evans basically said that being in the mainstream or less had nothing to do with compliance with the copyright laws. The quick analysis of the opinion suggests that anything more than a chapter or 10% of the book will require a license fee. Once the loose ends in the case are wrapped up it will be on to the appellate court.
The Association for Research Libraries has its own issue brief on the case, with links to other analyses. [MG]
May 14, 2012
Georgia State e-Reserve Case Decided
The case filed by publishers against Georgia State University over the use of materials in e-reserves was decided last Friday. The case is not available on the Northern District of Georgia web site. There is commentary by Kevin Smith from the Duke University Libraries, here. He indicates that the case is a mixed bag of results, with the publishers failing to establish the most egregious claims of infringement by the University. There is, however, some liability for some of the activity by the University and some restrictions on the volume of content that can be placed on e-reserves. The opinion is some 350 pages. I'll be commenting further on this once I read the full opinion. I'm curious if any of the reasoning in the opinion will have any effect on the HathiTrust case. [MG]
April 23, 2012
BLaw Makes Its Push Into Law Schools
Bloomberg Law is making an aggressive push into the academic market. The offer to schools is interesting to say the least. Any school that subscribes to the BNA Premier Service will receive a significant discount on their subscription charge and free access to Bloomberg Law. That discount can be in tens of thousands of dollars for an acknowledged high quality legal database. What Bloomberg asks in return, is parity with the way other electronic legal research services are treated at law schools. This general statement is from the promotional literature provided by Bloomberg Law lays out what it wants from law schools:
- Provide Bloomberg Law with information necessary to register each eligible individual user.
- Incorporate Bloomberg Law into the first-year legal research and writing curriculum.
- Assist Bloomberg Law in providing ongoing training opportunities consistent with other full-service online legal research services.
- Market and advertise Bloomberg Law and training opportunities and resources to market Bloomberg Law consistent with other full-service online research providers.
- Permit Bloomberg Law to recruit student representatives.
Requirements listed above to be provided in a manner that is no less favorable to Bloomberg than the manner provided to other full-service online legal research services. The reduced pricing on your Bloomberg BNA contract is contingent upon maintaining this agreement with Bloomberg Law.
Some of these requirements as stated above are getting some buzz in the academic law library community. The first requirement has raised concerns about schools complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). I’ll just mention in passing that we sign up students to Lexis and Westlaw without any FERPA problems. Bloomberg has indicated that it would be flexible enough to deal with students and schools so that FERPA compliance is not an issue.
Incorporating Bloomberg Law into the first-year legal research and writing curriculum raises initial questions. This comes from the fact that schools vary greatly in how they position electronic legal research in the first year curriculum, or in law school generally. Bloomberg understands this. Company representatives came to my school last Thursday and clarified that the statement means a school should provide equal treatment to Bloomberg in the curriculum compared to Lexis and Westlaw. The qualifying statement immediately following the bullet points above sort of says that. I’d be more interested in seeing the actual contract for service as it will contain the real terms and obligations of the parties. In the meantime, anyone with doubts to the meaning of integration within the curriculum should ask a Bloomberg representative to fully explain this language.
A few other points came out at the meeting. Unlike Lexis and Westlaw, Bloomberg is not providing free printing options for students and faculty, at least as of now. I’m not sure this is much of a problem. There are opportunities for students to save on the system and share with other Bloomberg Law users. My own personal feeling is that some students print excessively on Lexis and Westlaw simply because they can. There may be grumbling at a lack of this option, but I see the upside as less paper waste.
On the other hand, the students get something valuable that Lexis and Westlaw regularly deny them, and that is the ability to use their Bloomberg Law IDs for outside work without violating ethical rules. I had to stop the Bloomberg representative from continuing because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. To clarify, a student possessing a Bloomberg ID can use that ID for research if he or she is clerking for an outside firm or as a summer associate. I think this is a shrewd move on the part of Bloomberg. It promotes the use of the service for students in real life research situations and it gets the service some visibility in law offices that may be potential customers in the future. The ability to use the ID may make students more attractive as hires for outside work.
I’ve been using Bloomberg Law for almost two years. Personally, I like it a lot. It’s a different kind of research service. All the primary stuff is there, but the initial focus is on the news and current awareness. That probably comes from the experience on the business side. As a self-professed news junkie, it gives me a reason to log into Bloomberg Law regularly. I can’t say that the current Lexis and Westlaw interfaces encourage that. I like the fact that Bloomberg articles tend to include relevant documents as attachments when they are available. The business research materials are an added bonus in this age of information convergence.
The docket feature is a real alternative to PACER. We regularly retrieve documents from PACER for law review members and research assistants. Here’s an opportunity for self-help. The fact that Bloomberg is developing their own version of a state-based PACER system is attractive for some research situations. Other features include an electronic citator and a growing body of secondary sources. Bloomberg may not have the list of publications available on Lexis or Westlaw, but the purchase and integration of BNA shows the company is aggressive about competing in the electronic legal research market. I can only wonder what’s next.
Let me theorize for a moment. Everyone is going social. I’m surprised Lexis or Westlaw hasn’t developed the West Legal Directory or Martindale Hubbell into social sites where lawyers and students can hang out. Bloomberg could easily extend its current awareness emphasis to crowd-sourced interactive sharing. Either that or it could buy LinkedIn and integrate it into the service. As much as I decline to actively participate in social networking services online, I could easily see this evolving to give students and lawyers a reason to log into a research service beyond getting documents.
If any of this seems a bit too effusive, I’m drawn to the deal Bloomberg is offering compared to the benefits for students and the less expensive access to BNA. The substance is certainly there as a viable research service. Bloomberg is definitely is a change from Lexis and Westlaw. I hope the two competitors react to this. Neither company has leveraged their secondary publications side in deals as aggressively as Bloomberg has with BNA. There was a time when Lexis and Westlaw competed heavily with each other in the law school market. Now it’s just tee shirts and cups, if that, and I'm sure we all have plenty by now. I don’t know if Bloomberg is going to succeed in law schools. It sure will make the competition interesting. [MG]
January 26, 2012
Report Suggests Students Don't Need Many Library Services at Crunch Time
There is an interesting report from Project Information Literacy (based at Washington University Information School) called How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library during Crunch Time. Here is the abstract:
Abstract: The paper presents findings from 560 interviews with undergraduates on 10 campuses distributed across the US, as part of Project Information Literacy (PIL). Overall, the findings suggest that students use a “less is more” approach to manage and control all of the IT devices and information systems available to them while they are in the library during the final weeks of the term. In the hour before we approached them for an interview, more respondents had checked for messages (e.g., Facebook, email, texts, IMs) more than any other task while they were in the library. A majority of respondents who had checked for messages during the previous hour had also prepared assignments and/or studied for courses. More respondents reported using library equipment, such as computers and printers, more than they had used any other library resource or service. Over half the sample considered their laptop their most essential IT device and most had a Web browser and, to a lesser extent, a word processing application running at the time of the interviews. Most students were using one or two Web sites at the time of the interviews, but there was little overlap among the Web sites they were using. A large majority of the respondents could be classified as “light” technology users, i.e., students who use one or two IT devices to support one or two primary activities (at the time of the interviews). A preliminary theory is introduced that describes how studentsʼ technology usage may be influenced by locale (i.e., the campus library) and circumstance (i.e., crunch time). Recommendations are made for how campus-wide stakeholders—faculty, librarians, higher education administrators, and commercial publishers—can work together to improve pedagogies for 21st century undergraduates.
While the subjects of the study are undergraduates, much of the use of the library mirrors what I see anecdotally from the reference desk as we get near exams. The few questions we get at that time relate more to technology and equipment than it does to anything law related. My impression is that most students have acquired most of the information they need for their outlines by that time and the library is the setting where they are putting it together.
Here are some of the findings from the report. 81% of interviewed students used technology to stay in touch with friends via social media or messaging systems. Few students used library resources compared to the equipment located there. 39% used computers and printers; 11% used research databases; 9% used library books; 5% used face-to-face reference; and 2% used online reference. Although the report covered undergraduate students, I’m not sure that Lexis or Westlaw use by law students would be much different in these circumstances.
There are four promised recommendations for librarians at the end of the report. These are (1) assessing the library’s role as a refuge; (2) designing mobile apps to support new study habits; (3) explore the viability of social media one course at a time; and (4) learning beyond self-styled techniques for managing IT devices. The recommendations have no specific answers. The concern with number 1 is the distinct lack of engagement students have with the library at crunch time.
As to the first recommendation, the authors received more complaints about WiFi connectivity and printer/copier maintenance. I have to agree that law students raise similar complaints. They urge libraries to consider what services students actually need at these times compared to what libraries make available. I’m not sure how this issue necessarily critical as library services generally don’t change at these times. Student needs might change but I’m not sure there is a gap where the library might provide different services. The complaints tend to be facilities based rather than resource based.
The second recommendation suggests libraries either create or license mobile apps that enhance study opportunities for students. It’s an interesting idea, but one that would require broad university support for creation and implementation, plus money for support. The third recommendation is another where the role of the library within the greater institution comes into play. Blackboard and its alternatives were designed for collaboration in a controlled environment. I’m not sure social networks could be a substitute for them given the requirements of confidentiality in federal law. Social networks like to be, well, very openly social. Still there is room to create software that turns class sites into class hangouts, assuming that is what a student wants.
The fourth recommendation builds on the fact that students tend to use fewer devices, mostly a laptop and/or a smart phone for connectivity. Odd that tablet computing hasn’t made the cut yet, but I suppose that is fodder for a future study. The real problem isn’t the devices themselves, but perhaps teaching students to use them better for note taking or identifying other specialized software. Librarians could fill a role in teaching best digital management strategies. The last idea is the most interesting. That’s a service libraries tend not to supply.
A PDF copy of the report is here. [MG]
December 20, 2011
Covering SCOTUS: Thomson Reuters' Case by Case vs SCOTUSblog, Sponsored by Bloomberg Law
On December 13, 2011, Thomson Reuters launched "a dynamic interactive online tool offering comprehensive coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011-12 term. Case by Case: The U.S. Supreme Court, accessed at www.reuters.com/supreme-court/2011-2012, combines original reporting from Thomson Reuters News & Insights (www.newsandinsight.com) with links to an extensive collection of analysis and legal materials, including motions, briefs and opinions, all sourced from Westlaw... ." Quoting from Legal Currents. TR press release here. Like TR News & Insights this is another corporate avenue to promote subscribing to Westlaw to access cited content. I'm actually surprised the links aren't to WestlawNext as an attempt to increase WLN adoption rates.
Case in point for Case by Case. Check out the entry for Judulang v. Holder. [click on image below to enlarge] Besides the ever so brief summary of the opinion -- "comprehensive coverage", "extensive collection of analysis" really? -- (and failure to even give the case's docket number; that would be No. 10–694) the text of the SCOTUS opinion as well as Petitioner's and the Respondent's briefs are linked to Classic Westlaw. Click on the links. For example, the link to the opinion takes you to the Westlaw login page; the briefs' links takes you to web2westlaw.com which in my case produces a blank page display. I'm thinking SCOTUS briefs are not part of my plan.
So Reuters (and I say Reuters because of the domain name) is getting into the SCOTUS news and insights business with Westlaw links-to. Oh hell, why not. It's all about profit maximizing commoditization anyway, right?
Free Access and Real Expertise. Sleep well SCOTUSblog and its sponsor. You aren't going to lose one eyeball to Case by Case even if one views TR's venture as an attempt to wedge itself into this niche. Free access to public domain source materials and equally free real expertise trumps this lame attempt by Reuters. For Judulang v. Holder, 10–694, SCOTUSblog provides links to free content ... to not just the SCOTUS opinion and the opinion below, but also to the argument transcript, merit briefs, amicus briefs and the blog's coverage, including expert analysis on this page.
Take for example, SCOTUSblog's Opinion analysis: Judulang v. Holder written by Kevin Johnson, UC-Davis Law Dean and a recognized immigration law expert who, ah OK, is also a co-editor of one of our Network Blogs, ImmigrationProf Blog. In this SCOTUSblog illustration, the Judulang v. Holder opinion is linked to the Supreme Court's website and every cited opinion in Dean Johnson's analysis is linked to free BLaw text.
Got to love it when one major legal publisher tweaks the nose of another major legal publisher. And there you have it -- "'Bloomberg Law <First>,' Westlaw <Next>". There is a reason why TR Legal is known as the Land of 10,000 Invoices Licenses. Enough said. Well, not quite. See image above right on what someone in Eagan, NYC or Canada needs to do to the TR corporate guru who came up with this idea. [JH]
|Click to enlarge; screen capture taken on Dec. 15, 2011|
October 05, 2011
Copyright Developments In The News
There were three recent developments in copyright. The first is that the United States and seven other governments signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) last Saturday. Parties to the super-secret talks who have not signed yet include the European Union, Mexico, and Switzerland. The EU hadn’t signed as the Directorate for Finding Pens and Pencils With Which to Sign Things hadn’t issued its preliminary and final rulings on the correct writing instruments to use. Yes, that last part is a joke, but anyone who has had to regularly research European Union law will get it. Press reports indicate the EU intends to sign the agreement at some point. The announcement of the signing is available from Office of the United States Trade Representative web site. Related documents, including the text of the Agreement, are here.
ACTA represents a somewhat successful effort by the United States to export DMCA style controls such provision for digital locks on media and proscriptions on mechanisms to break those locks to other countries. Noticeably absent from the agreement are China, Russia, and India which together represent a large chunk of the world’s media consuming population. ACTA is negotiated as an Executive Agreement in the United States as it does not change existing law here.
We’ll see if ACTA does more than make media companies and governments feel good about themselves. In the history of such things the encryption codes for DVD and Blu-Ray digital locks were broken pretty easily. There’s a discussion about this on Wikipedia. Making the activity illegal will hardly stop it. Only one person need know how to hack. The rest need only know how to click a link. There are plenty of the latter out there, especially in countries not signatories to the agreement.
The second development is from non-action by the Supreme Court via an order it issued at the term which began last Monday. The Court declined to hear an appeal in the case of United States v. American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), 627 F.3d 64 (2nd Cir. 2010). The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s determination that downloading a media file was not subject to royalties as it did not constitute a public performance under the Copyright Act. Imagine, for example, someone, the distributor or a consumer, having to pay an additional fee on a straight download.
The Appellate Court made the distinction that no one sees or hears the file until after it appears on the consumer’s device or hard drive and then played. This is in contrast to a stream where the content is viewed or heard as the transmission takes place. There are probably those in the technical world who would argue that it is possible to access the content of files while they are downloading. The Court made its analysis on the language of the Copyright Act as it defines a public performance and concluded that a download generally does not meet the definition.
The third development is Monday’s dismissal of a suit brought by Ambrose Video Publishing against UCLA for copying DVDs and placing them on UCLA servers. UCLA then allowed content to be streamed to the UCLA community via password protected access. One of the allegations was that the setting was not educational as access was on-demand, including to UCLA community members overseas. The Court responded that the agreement between Ambrose and UCLA allowed a public performance and found that placing the material on the UCLA network was allowed under the agreement. It didn’t take much more for the Court to find that ripping the DVDs was allowed to place the files on the network. The other claim was that UCLA trafficked in the DVD content under the DMCA. The Court did not buy that one, at least as the Judge called the allegations conclusory and insufficient to establish a claim.
UCLA hails the ruling, though it may not celebrate so much. The District Court opinion is short on legal citations supporting its ruling. The Ninth Circuit may have something else to say. If Ambrose were smart, it would establish its own streaming servers and offer educational access through its own links. It would have better control over its content under those circumstances. The ruling, nonetheless, represents a victory for educational technology, assuming it stands. [MG]
October 03, 2011
When e-Books Are Revised
Two stories popped up recently, one from Stephan Shankland via CNET and one from Carol Saller in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Both dealt with the mechanisms of correcting e-books for typos and such. Shankland’s example concerned the Kindle version of Neal Stephenson’s novel, Readme. Kindle users received a cryptic message that the e-book had to be replaced because of “missing content.” That set off a whole flurry of discussion on Amazon reviews of the book wondering what the changes might be. As it turns out, they were minor changes to sentence structure more than missing content. The example in Shankland’s article suggest either an editor or the author caught some sloppy writing after the book had been prepared for electronic publication and someone decided to fix it. There is no explanation as to why this happened.
The point of Shankland’s article is that someone, Amazon or the publisher should have explained exactly what “missing content” meant to the reader. The implication with such a message is that sections of the book were missing which was far from the truth. One statement Shankland makes, however, is completely wrong: “The problem isn't the kind of thing that would happen with a paper book.” Oh, far from it. How many times have I replaced a reporter on the shelf because West made a printing error, or how many times have I had to paste a sheet over a page that corrected bad text. I realize that primary legal materials differ in their authority compared to a novel. Nonetheless, errors creep into general books as well.
This leads me to Carol Saller’s article. She comes at the same problem from the other side. She relates how she copy-edited Edward W. Wolner’s Henry Ives Cobb’s Chicago: Architecture, Institutions, and the Making of a Modern Metropolis. Her problem is that one of the illustrations included in the printed volume is wrong. That can be corrected in a second printing with an impression line that distinguishes between versions of the same edition. An e-book is a different animal, especially for scholarly purposes. She suggests that there should be some way to make the same distinctions with e-books.
I agree in that I think there should be something like a revisions and corrections page noting those changes. Stephenson’s publisher treated the novel a bit too casually when a little more information would have gone a long way with those who purchased the book. Printed versions of loose-leaf texts at least have indications of the currency of the text through release numbers and dates appearing somewhere on the page. Revisions to electronic texts should adopt some similar form of notice.
One type of publication where multiple or continuous revisions could be a feature rather than a bug is electronic textbooks, especially law books. Virtually every constitutional law or criminal procedure casebook goes out of date with each Supreme Court term that passes between editions. It would seem practical enough for the academic authors to at least acknowledge that there is later precedent that affects the commentary and analysis contained in the text. A fast update such as this would make an e-textbook that much more marketable for students and faculty alike. I hope law publishers take this concept into account. And while we're at it, an e-textbook format can support multimedia. How hard would it be for an author to offer video commentary on a point? Let's make use of the existing technology to realize the possibilities.[MG]
August 18, 2011
Cornell Student Wants Unlimited Campus Internet Access
I read, with some amusement, a story in the Wired Campus blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education about Cornell University sophomore Christina Lara’s petition for the school to drop Internet bandwidth caps. Lara apparently goes beyond her allotted quota of bandwidth and is regularly hit with charges of around $90 a month according to the blog post. She has a fondness for Skype and Netflix, both big bandwidth hogs, and she mentions them in the petition as what should be the right of any college student. Ithica is such a boring place that there doesn’t seem anything else to do besides stare at a screen. She concludes the petition by stating “With a pricetag $57,000 per year, Cornell University should give it's students unlimited internet usage.” I’ll leave that statement for the grammar police.
The petition notes that the Internet is “free in virtually every college and university in the country.” Feel free to run the search “Internet university bandwidth caps” in Google (or Bing if you must) and result after result will show that statement is hardly the case. Many universities place restrictions on bandwidth ranging from 500 megabytes a week for undergraduates to about 16 Gigabytes per week. The most common figure I’ve seen is around 50 Gigabytes per month. The penalties for going past the cap are slowing the download speed and/or overage charges. Cornell hardly seems out of the mainstream with this type of policy.
Another objection is “By charging us for our internet usage, the Cornell University administration hinders our ability--and our willingness--to use the internet for recreational purposes.” Most policies I have encountered do not include campus work, such as downloading documents from reserve, against the cap. Christina, my advice to you is that Cornell is preparing you for the real world. Try living the full digital lifestyle with a cap courtesy of AT&T or Comcast, or virtually any other commercial Internet provider. Our friend Andrew Vrignaud found out the hard way about that one.
I remember speaking to a student at one of the other law schools where I worked and fielded a question that included the “I pay X dollars in tuition, why can’t I have…” statement. I responded by saying if you want that, then perhaps your tuition should be more. To quote the Wizard of Oz, “What a world!” [MG]
July 18, 2011
Textbook Rental Comes To The Kindle
The promise of electronic textbooks has been with us for awhile. Anyone remember the competing platforms of Folio on Lexis and Premise on West? Both companies sold electronic versions of their casebooks in the 1990s, though they were heavily drenched with DRM that nearly suffocated a text's utility. That is one of the major reasons why we remember them rather than use them in those old formats now. Fast forward to 2011 in an age of Kindles, pads, and apps, all connected online, and the legal eTextbook is making a cicada-like reappearance, sort of.
Amazon has announced a Kindle-based textbook rental program. There is a law section, and it does list books commonly used in legal education. The problem is that many of the casebooks listed, typically from West or Aspen, have no electronic counterpart. The titles that are available electronically are likely not going to be assigned as a reading by an instructor, with the possible listings for some of the legal research and writing titles. I assume this lack of commonly used textbooks in electronic form is based on the continuing publisher paranoia that a reader may actually get more value from a book for which there was no payment, or that all law students are assumed to be theives. I suppose, it's best to guard the goods under these circumstances.
Details of the rental program are here. The Amazon textbook store breaks its listings down into subjects with law as one of the topics. I wandered through approximately 100 title listings before I found a West casebook in a Kindle edition. That was Business Law by Clarkson, Miller,Jentz, and Cross. The Amazon hardcover prince comes to $189.49. The Kindle Edition is priced at $157.56. The rental price is $45.19, if I rented it starting today ending my lease on September 30th. Extending it to October 31st would extend the cost to $55.39. That's still significantly lower than the harcover price for a new copy. Amazon, however, lists the same title as used starting from $29.95. That's a significant saving on the Kindle edition if a purchaser can actually get a copy at that price.
Comparatively, Cengage Learning offers the same title for $223.49 in hardcover, as an eBook for $131.49, and chapter rental for $3.99. Complete text rental is $83.99 for 60 days and $94.49 for 90 days. There are options for more time that are more expensive. Cengage allows for access via portable devices in addition to PCs, at least that's the impression I get from their FAQ. I would think there are other distributors out there as well. The moral of the story is to shop around to find the best deal that fits individual needs. I've only described price here. Choice of a distributor can take into account many different features and delivery systems. Amazon promotes the fact that the texts they rent have note-taking features and that these notes will be available after the rental period expires. I don't know if Cengage offers anything comparable. Note that all of these prices are listed as of July 18th. They obviously can change with the market for the goods.
I think that the textbook rental market opening to electronic devices such as the Kindle is a great development. Not everyone wants to carry expensive, heavy books and keep them any longer than they would need. A textbook in a Kindle Edition is a positive step. It would be great for law study if more commonly used textbooks were available, giving students a choice in formats and vendors. Some commentary on the Amazon store is in Ars Technica. The only question I have at this point is whether I've violated some rule or something or other because I referenced current prices that exist on publicly available web sites? [MG]
June 29, 2011
University of Michigan To Allow Campus Access To Digital Oprhan Works
What to do about orphan books and digital access? One of the several reasons that the Amended Settlement Agreement negotiated by Google and the publisher and author associations was not approved had to do with these books. Judge Chin said that it was up to Congress to make changes to the copyright laws to account for their use. Congress is not one of those entities that tends to move fast when it comes to intellectual property, its bias for big content notwithstanding. The question remains, without court or congressional approval, what to with that massive amount of in-copyright material where no rightsholder can be identified or located?
The University of Michigan Library System has decided to make these texts available to users who are on campus. If one can get to a UM library, one can conceivably use the book as if it were the library's physical copy. The library announced last month that it was researching the status of books in its digital collection so as to identify orphan works. This move to open access to these works is welcome in the sense that it opens some form of access to the content of these books. The Library System says that its lawyers advised it that this is appropriately fair use under §107 of the Copyright Act.
Paul Givler, executive director of the Association of American University Presses, disagrees. He is quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying "there is nothing in either the copyright statute or the case law to justify such a sweeping claim." That's the problem with fair use. Case law generally fleshes out the factors listed in the statute. Givens is probably right in that there isn't case law on this...yet. I would put money that there will be a lawsuit over this, just as there was when Cambridge University and other publishers sued Georgia State University over the practice of placing electronic copies of in-copyright texts from licensed databases on electronic reserve. The District Court stated:
Here, the evidence indicates that ERes and uLearn have significant noninfringing uses. They can be used to facilitate distribution of materials protected by fair use. They can be used to digitally distribute works for which Georgia State owns licenses. They can also be used to distribute copyrighted works with permission from the copyright holders. They can be used to distribute original materials created by the instructors or materials for which the instructors or the university owns copyrights. uLearn allows instructors to utilize a wide range of tools to manage their courses, such as discussion forums, quizzes, and announcement pages. None of these activities implicate copyright infringement. (Order of September 30, 2010, at page 28.)
There are still other issues to resolve in this case, specifically whether Georgia State's Copyright Policy resulted in ongoing and continuous misuse of the fair use defense. That is the plaintiff-publisher's burden. The University defendants have to show that each allegation of infringement under the University's Copyright Policy was fair use. Nonetheless, the fact that this issue will be resolved and lead to a precedent is far better than waiting for Congress to set rules. I think that it would be a positive development if a court ruled on what the University of Michigan Library system is doing with digitized orphan books.
The origina issue in the Google Book case was whether Google could scan whole books and make them available in snippet view. Google claimed fair use. As we know, that core issue was never litigated. Settlement was preferable at least to th publisher and author groups than setting a precedent against them. Perhaps Michigan can do us all a favor and get the courts to rule on the ability to use digitized copies of library holdings. Win or lose, at least we'd know without having to dance around the issue. [MG]
June 28, 2011
Couldn't Attend CALI's Annual Meeting, Check Out Archived Webcasts
Videos of presentations are availabe at the CALIcon11 Webcast Catalog. [JH]
May 11, 2011
Student Kindle DX Use for Academic Reading Gets Mixed Reviews
The Seattle Times reports on a study of a University of Washington pilot program of Kindle DX use for eTextbooks and other course texts involving first-year computer science and engineering graduate students. Seven months into the program, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Findings include
- The Kindle DX was more likely to replace students' paper-based reading than their computer-based reading.
- Of the students who continued to use the device, some read near a computer so they could look up references or do other tasks that were easier to do on a computer. Others tucked a sheet of paper into the case so they could write notes.
- With paper, three quarters of students marked up texts as they read. This included highlighting key passages, underlining, drawing pictures and writing notes in margins.
- A drawback of the Kindle DX was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article's illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. Students frequently made such switches as they read course material.
- The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues, such as the location on the page and the position in the book to find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.