How a Student-Friendly Kindle Could Change the Textbook Market

CAROL’S SUMMARY: How students learn and how faculty teach is changing. According the article below in THE CHRONICLE, students may soon be learning from their Kindles (Amazon’s wireless reading device), and several universities are willing to participate in a pilot to explore this opportunity.

No doubt, technology is causing us to rethink how students learn and how teachers teach both at the college and the K-12 level. In the near future, students may be studying with Kindles and their cell phones as many students in other countries are already doing. What does this mean for teachers and what does this mean for students? For teachers, it means change to a model of facilitation based on cooperation and multi-level learning. They will need to be the question-askers, getting students to learn through activities and interaction which can challenge them with content from their Kindles or their in-class computer work stations. This will allow students of different learning abilities to learn at different rates instead of being bored by a lecture which only accommodates one type of learner. Teachers
need to understand visual and technological learning in ways that will allow them to connect with how young people have grown up and what they need to both learn and understand.

What does it mean for how students learn? It means that students will have to be more active in their learning by being willing to take the initiative with other students, their learning materials and their ability to do effective project-based learning. This may well mean learning across states and across borders with students from around the world. Technology allows us to expose students to all kinds of experiences that the old world method couldn’t provide. Students will need an open and curious mind, the ability to collaborate and very strong critical and creative thinking skills to take their learning further and be a true participant in the process.

What does this mean for publishers? It means that the intersection between gaming theory and learning has never been more important. The extent to which project-based learning can emerge to add learning value, is the extent to which publishers and authors can reinvent themselves. If this happens, we will be able to raise the learning bar, overall achievement and create a future workforce who know not just how to think about problems–theirs, the community, the world’s– but also has the skill to actually solve those problems in strong, effective and practical ways.


May 6, 2009

Rumors that Amazon will introduce a wide-format Kindle have the news media and bloggers speculating about whether the new gadget will spark an electronic-textbook revolution and lighten backpacks nationwide.

This week The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon plans to work with a handful of universities on a pilot project featuring Kindles loaded with textbooks. Officials at the institutions named in the article—Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Pace University, Princeton University, Reed College, and the University of Virginia’s business school—refused to reveal details, citing nondisclosure agreements. But textbook publishers and resellers, industry watchers, and students have been happy to chime in about what the reported move might mean for them.

Most experts interviewed by The Chronicle expressed skepticism that students would buy and carry around a Kindle for textbooks, even if the device was bigger and had better annotating and Web-browsing capabilities than Amazon’s current e-book reader. But the new gadget might do something that all of the current providers of e-textbooks have failed to do—make digital textbooks seem cool.

The tough question is, How will Amazon succeed where all previous electronic-textbook efforts have failed?

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