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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What happens when you use the wrong tool

Recently the University of Princeton ran an experiment to see how good the Kindle was for the educational system. And read carefully my words, “how good the Kindle was”. And I said this because after reading this comment from one of the students participating in the experiment you will end into the same conclusion where I ended.

“Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs,” he explained. “All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.”

Well, just by reading this, I can say that the Kindle is not the right tool for this guy. He needs something more flexible, something that will allow him to take notes right on the eBook, highlight, organize his notes and have a search capability within his notes. Everything that can be found in a mini Tablet PC using Windows 7, OneNote and PDF Annotator. Even within the eBook Readers with e-ink technology we have other readers like the iRex iLiad that comes closer to cover the needs of this student (and the majority of all students) than the Kindle. The failure was not in the eBooks, the failure was from the those who planned the experiment by not asking what are the students needs and then pick the right tools to cover those needs. The failure is in the jump to a new technology just because is appealing and new and no because it’s really what you need.

eBook Readers still a long way to go and what is available at this moment is more than enough for having a good time reading but it fails to satisfy the students’ needs because they are under pressure and they need quick results. They have just different needs that are far from reading for pleasure. And that’s what the Kindle is, a tool for having a good time reading.