Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kids today!

College kids using the Kindle have many gripes. Unfortunately, most of them are dumb.
[S]ome students are finding they miss the decidedly low-tech conveniences of paper -- highlighting, flagging pages with sticky notes and scribbling in the margins. ... Becerra tried typing notes on the Kindle's small keyboard, but when she went back to reread them she found they were laden with typos and didn't make sense. After a month, she says she takes far fewer notes and relies on the Kindle's highlighter tool instead.
Have you considered taking notes ... on your computer? Or on paper? Are marginalia scrawled in a textbook really the best study aid? If you need to link your notes to the text, use the location markers.
Other students struggled when professors had them read documents in PDF format, which doesn't show up well on the Kindle. Users can't zoom in or make notes on them, and diagrams sometimes get separated from notes explaining them.
Before the Kindle, you would have printed out PDFs or looked at them on your computer. Try that.
Students were also impressed with the "electronic ink" screen, which Amazon touts as far easier on the eyes than reading off a computer monitor. But it can't be backlit, disappointing one student who wants to read during dark early-morning bus commutes.
Backlighting would cancel out the entire benefit of e-ink. Buy a book light.

It seems like these students would have a much better Kindle experience if they didn't try to use the device to replace their laptops as well as their textbooks.
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