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Are Ebooks Good for Students?

When it comes to textbooks, Kindles and other electronic readers don't really work because of the way the brain functions (but if you have an e-reader, you can carry Hybrids and The Key along with you, and watch Whitley morph into a machine again and again, plus check out MOTKE's provocative statements all during the day. The NEW, REVISED edition of The Key, which is in stores (and on your Kindle) NOW!

A new study of how graduate students integrated an Amazon Kindle into their course reading provides a long-term investigation of e-readers in higher education. While some of the study’s findings were expected--students want improved support for taking notes, checking references and viewing figures--the researchers 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 in cracking the college market. The study looked more broadly at how students did their academic reading, following both those who incorporated the e-reader into their routines and those who did not. Researchers found that less than 40% of the students they surveyed were regularly doing their academic reading on the Kindle.

Researcher Charlotte Lee says, "Most e-readers were designed for leisure reading--think romance novels on the beach. 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." With paper, three quarters of students marked up texts as they read, including highlighting key passages, underlining, drawing pictures and writing notes in margins. A drawback of the Kindle was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article’s illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. Students frequently made such switches as they read course material. Lee concludes that, "E-readers are not where they need to be in order to support academic reading."

If you bring your Kindle to beautiful, musical Nashville in June, we'll ask you to put it down during the fascinating talks we have scheduled for you from all of your favorite Dreamland hosts (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). But hurry--tickets are almost SOLD OUT!



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