It was bad news for Kindle last week.
The program gave Kindle DXs to a group of first year MBA students, allowing them “to acess textbooks, case studies, newspapers and other learning materials.”
There was a lot of excitement about the project.
“Today was a special day,” the university posted. “Each new Kindle arrived in a cool blue leather hacet.”
That was in August.
Friday, there was a little less excitement.
“Most Darden students prefer not to use the electronic reading devices in the B-school classroom,” the school concluded though it was clear from the students that they enjoyed it as a reading device.
“What that says to me is that Amazon created a very well-designed consumer device for purchasing and reading digital books, magazines and newspapers,” according to Michael Koenig, the school’s director of MBA operations. “It’s not yet ready for prime time in the highly engaged Darden business school classroom.”
There were similar thoughts at Princeton where, despite high hopes about paper reduction, students liked it more as a reader than a study tool, noting their inability to highlight text among other things.
“I found the device difficult to use and not conducive to academic purposes,” said sophomore Eddie Skolnick. “But I can see how it can be used for pleasure reading.”
Of course, these are separate issues from pushback Amazon received from the United States Department of Justice, which asked colleges to stop testing the device until it was more accessible to blind students.
The thing is, as Reed College pointed out after they studied the device:
“While students and faculty in Reed’s Kindle study were unanimous in reporting that the Kindle DX –– in its current incarnation –– was unable to meet their academic needs, many felt that once technical and other issues have been addressed, eReaders will play a significant, possibly a transformative, role in higher education.”
Meanwhile, now that Apple has released the iPad, they are making a go at the academic market.
An article last month in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggested that it could take a little while for it to catch on though it suggested it will be helped by apps.
But, the fact is that as advanced as they are, we are still very early in the evolutionary process.
It will be interesting to see where things go and how the iPad tests at universities go and what lessons Amazon takes away from their trial runs.