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Will Kindle Solve All Our Reading Problems?

As days pass by, more and more people is getting used to small appliances and the same sort of technological devices. We are hunting for the right cell phone, the tiniest digital camera, the faster netbook and of course, the device that solve all our academic problems, a ereader.

The iPhone/iPod has made its way into families and school, but do the ereaders can compare to the Apple devices? That is a big question that still Amazon has to answer. They claim to have the best ereader and to be working to get it running on wifi. However, Kindle seems to lack three things so valuable in education:
adaptability, portability and connectivity.

Even though Amazon’s efforts are focused on college students, for schools we need a thin light device that could handle annotations, web links, carry unlimited internet access, or as Tim Stahmer puts it: "Devices that make it seamless to work with more than text – audio, video, interactive graphics, access to learning communities – anything that can be used to understand, clarify, revise and build on the knowledge available."

The education core is reading and you could do that reading for your English or history class on a Kindle, but you can not do it for your Math class or even write your paper on it. Nor could you email it to your teacher, or upload it to a proofreading site, or copy and paste a quote from Shakespeare into it. Considering a book does get outdated, you still have to read the book, and find a word processor plus a printer or email connection to complete and submit your assignment. So, what is the benefit of a Kindle?

There are a great number of computer users who complain about screen fatigue. Because of the backlit laptop screen which produces eye fatigue and other kinds situations that I am not able to describe here. Same may be happening with the Kindle -remember it has a smaller screen. I know many will say that kids are familiar with small screens, that is true, but their motivations are quite different, a game can not be compared to a reading assignment.

The Kindle ereader still has a business model design, distant to an educational approach we teacher/students would like to have. Amazon can get us a better one, but not teacher can pay 400 dollars for this little toy, not to mention parents. Especially when one of the reasons why textbooks are so short-lived is the tendency for kids to jam them in backpacks, shove them in lockers, lose them under their beds, etc., if a kid breaks a Kindle, who pays for the replacement? Parents can barely contribute to the school fund-raising or pay to replace a damaged book.

We agree with Stahmer when he writes on his cited post: "The devices that will truly change education will be those that make it easy to access information from anywhere at any time, combined with a wealth of open source materials that can be used and modified by anyone, student or teacher."

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