Beacon News: Where technology and education meet

By Cassady Faircloth
Contributing Writer

Students at Palm Beach Atlantic University, like so many others throughout the country, are turning to alternate, electronic methods when studying.

Among the devices popular with students is the Kindle, which allows them to purchase electronic copies of textbooks at a lower price than the bookstore.

Sold by Amazon and featuring 3G wireless technology for fast data transfer, the Kindle allows you to order and start reading a book in about 60 seconds.

There are no monthly wireless bills or yearly contracts associated with the Kindle.

Weighing in at 10.2 ounces, the Kindle is able to hold 1,500 books and is as thin as a magazine. Imagine the difference of having a Kindle in your backpack instead of five two-inch textbooks.

“I don’t like carrying around books, especially to school,” said PBA student Jonathon Carpenter. “The Kindle provides a small and convenient way to carry them all with me. Plus the cost of books on Amazon is much cheaper than books at the bookstore, and you can order directly from the Kindle without leaving the house.”

Criticisms of the Kindle include comments on loss of quality between a hard copy of a textbook and the electronic version. Students also commented that once you have bought a book through Kindle, the only way to share is by loaning your Kindle.

“I hate the fact that you cannot share your books on Kindle,” said PBA graduate student Jennifer Smith.
Also, students cannot transfer written notes to their Kindle.

However, many appreciate the environmental aspect of the Kindle: with more books offered electronically, less paper must be produced.

“I am very environmentally conscious and appreciate the sustainable nature of the Kindle,” said Abbie Rosemeyer, director of dining services for PBA. “Because I travel frequently, the Kindle is ideal in that I can carry a number of books with me without strain. You can’t beat the convenience of instant gratification in purchasing a book while at the beach or late at night.”



Christopher Hernandez / Contributing Photographer

If all textbooks become digital in the future, the buying of used textbooks on campus will decline. Students will either be forced to go digital and purchase the Kindle or pay full price for new textbooks.

There are currently students at Case Western Reserve University, Pace University, Princeton, Reed, Darden School at the University of Virginia and Arizona State who are involved in a “Kindle project.” These students have been given large-screen Kindles with textbooks for computer science and chemistry. The project is designed to compare the user’s experiences with the Kindle against traditional textbooks.

While the Kindle, priced at $259, seems to be the most popular device among students for downloading textbooks, Sony and Barnes and Noble have each released their own electronic reader.

Barnes and Noble’s new device, the Nook, is comparably sized and priced. It appears the greatest advantage of the Nook is its ability to share books with other devices through the Barnes and Noble eReader, a free software program available for download to any iPhone, iPod, Blackberry or computer.

Sony’s Reader Digital Book costs $279, but has many ergonomic features that the Nook and Kindle lack. It is also capable of accessing over one million public domain titles from Google.

These electronic reading devices are not the only technological advancements entering classrooms.

In April, 15 members of the PBA faculty were involved in a demonstration using computers and software received from a Hewlett Packard grant. Hewlett Packard 210p tablets were used during the demonstration. The computers allow students to store notes, record lectures and access information outside the classroom on a regular computer.

The grant lasts for two years and began in August 2008. It will end in May 2010 and is designed to compare computer use between two calculus classes.


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