‘Kindle DX’ use by college students points to e-reader’s role in academiaMay 3rd, 2011 - 6:39 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, May 3 (ANI): A study conducted to analyse use of Amazon Kindle DX in the course of reading by University of Washington graduate students provides the first long-term investigation of e-readers in higher education.
Some of the findings were expected like, students wanting improved support for taking notes, checking references and viewing figures.
However, the authors also found that allowing people to switch between reading styles and providing the reader with physical cues, are two challenges that e-readers will need to address.
“There is no e-reader that supports what we found these students doing. It remains to be seen how to design one. It’s a great space to get into, there’s a lot of opportunity,” said author, Alex Thayer, a UW doctoral student in Human Centered Design and Engineering.
“Most e-readers were designed for leisure reading, think romance novels on the beach,” said co-author Charlotte Lee, a UW assistant professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering.
“We found that reading is just a small part of what students are doing. And when we realize how dynamic and complicated a process this is, it kind of redefines what it means to design an e-reader,” Lee added.
Researchers interviewed 39 first-year graduate students in the UW’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, 7 women and 32 men, ranging from 21 to 53 years old.
After seven months into the study, less than 40 pc of the students were regularly doing their academic reading on the Kindle DX.
The reasons included device’s lack of support for taking notes and difficulty in looking up references.
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.
Lee predicts that over time software will help address some of these issues. She even envisions niche software that could support reading styles specific to certain disciplines.
It’s likely that desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers and even paper will play a role in academic reading’s future. But the authors say e-readers will also find their place.
“E-readers are not where they need to be in order to support academic reading,” Lee concludes. But asked when e-readers will reach that point, she predicts, “it’s going to be sooner than we think.”
The study will be presented in Vancouver, B.C. at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (ANI)
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