Ok, so it took me 20 minutes and that was the wittiest title I could come up with.
A while ago, about the time the Kindle was released in Australia actually, I purchased an Amazon Kindle. It was really the first eReader I ever took any notice of and quickly bought it before I spent too much time researching and got paralysed by choice. I received the Kindle very promptly and was impressed with the packaging – don’t roll your eyes at me!
After reading a couple of novels on the Kindle, downloading a reference book, playing with all the features and even pulling it out on a train I have come up with the following…
Firstly, I love it. I really enjoy reading from the electronic ink screen and I found that I actually seem to read faster! I can hold the device in one hand, and thanks to it having “next page” buttons on both sides I can swap hands at anytime. (Something I noticed you can’t do with the Kobo because it only has one navigation button – too bad if you want to hold it in your left hand).
The Whispernet technology that allows the device to connect to the Amazon store anywhere you have 3G connectivity means acquiring the latest novel is a breeze. I realised just how good this was when I was heading into the city on a crowded train. About half way in I finished the novel I was reading on the Kindle and had no other reading material on the device. Not a problem, I simply turned on the wireless and connected to the Amazon Kindle store. Within 2 minutes I had located the next book in the series, paid for it (account connected directly to my credit card), downloaded it to the device and was reading again. Joy!
Educationally this device is great. Students love to engage with it, and engaging with it means reading! I haven’t shown a teacher who has not said the same thing. An english teacher commented how the eReaders can help to overcome “fat book anxiety”. This occurs when a student looks at the physical size of a novel and immediately believes that they can’t possibly read a something that big.
The ability to increase the size of the text and have it read to you via the built in text-to-speech means that this device would be an asset for learning support.
For novels, or anything that you read in a linear fashion, this device is great. However…
I used the Kindle to purchased a reference book I wish to use in the near future. I did this for two reasons, firstly, it was half the price and secondly, I could download it in 2 minutes as apposed to waiting for 10 to 15 days for it to be delivered. Usually with a reference book I scan the table of contents and have a quick flick through it looking out for interesting looking images and headings. This was not such an easy task to do on the Kindle. I actually fond the whole process a little “clunky”.
Sure, I can navigate to the table of contents and jump to the relevant sections from there. Also I can highlight sections of the text and clip it and I can add bookmarks and notes. However, it still wasn’t as good as a physical text book that allows me to add post-it notes and scraps of paper to relevant sections.
Why I don’t think eReaders will “replace” paper:
Data decay. I don’t just mean the decay of digital media over time, I am also talking about what happens to data on older platforms when new technologies come out. What is going to happen to the hundreds of texts that I could potentially own on the Kindle when something better and newer comes out? Will I have to transfer it over to the newer platform?
Think about that time you found an old box in the back of the garage. When you finally open the box and blow all the dust off it you realise it is your grandma’s childhood books, wow.
Jump ahead 63 years from now. Will your grandchildren come across a box with a kindle, ipad and a sony reader in it? Will the devices still work? Will the media still be supported?
In summary, I like this device. It has brought back the love of reading that I had previously forgotten. I see value in using it in the classroom and look forward to the years ahead and seeing how far these devices can take digital media and connectivity. For now though, I’ll be sticking to hard copies for reference books.