As an educator, if you believe learning is all about the passive consumption of content, you might be ecstatic to learn about Amazon’s new Kindle eBook reader, released to compete with the Sony eBook reader that hit shelves this fall. (Nod to “The Clever Sheep,” Rodd Lucier.)
If you are yearning for a smaller, cooler (temperature-wise) device to curl up with at night in bed for a little digital reading, you might be interested in the Kindle too. I definitely do NOT fall into the first camp, but do in the second.
Both devices are too pricey now, but we know that will change in time if Moore’s Law is able to operate. (Gordon’s theory/law/predication doesn’t seem to work in the world of H.323 videoconferencing codecs, but it does in many other areas of electronics and technology.) For more updates on the Kindle, check out Engaget’s posts on the device.
As for me and my brain, I think we’ll stick with a laptop. My personal hope for MacWorld 2008 (completely uninformed by any insider information) is for a much thinner, cooler running MacBook and MacBook Pro. I’d take that over a Kindle any day. I’m not nearly as enthused by read-only technologies as I am by read/write ones. Now, if the Kindle permits exporting of annotated book pages to a “real” computer system, AND costs less than $100 at some point, I might give it a second look. It needs to also permit blog COMMENTING as well, and it’s not clear from the above video that it does. It has a keyboard and wireless Internet connection, so it should be able to, but I don’t know if it does. The fact that you have to pay a fee to Amazon every time you want to email a word processing document to your own Kindle seems ridiculous. The Kindle’s Internet connection is not WiFi either, which should be an option, similar to the iPhone. The Kindle DOES support annotations like adding highlighting and notes, but I don’t know about exporting annotations. I suspect it does not. Anyone actually bought and/or used a Kindle? I’d like to see the device directly connect to Project Gutenberg (free) texts as well, but since it is a closed platform at this point and Amazon is wanting to sell you lots of ebooks, that functionality also seems doubtful.
With the explosion in content sure to continue, we need to prepare young people to be learners who are able to scan for keywords and topic sentences; to be researchers who are efficient at extracting key ideas; to be documentarians who can track their hyper-learning; to be judges, able to critically consider the validity and relevance of content.
With this idea in mind, it also seems reasonable that a device like a Kindle should connect to WikiPedia. And guess what? Kindle does connect to WikiPedia! But wait… we do have devices like this already. They are called “laptops.”
Got a plan for moving to a 1:1 learning environment in your school or district’s technology plan yet? If not, why not? Your students don’t need eBook readers like the Kindle, they need laptops. The future is here. Why are so many students and teachers still using pencils and paper all day long? The answer is not money. It is a LACK OF VISION, and a LACK OF INSPIRED LEADERSHIP. Want to know the good news? Those leadership traits are not genetic, they are voluntary.
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