Thursday, 7 May 2009

Book 2.0

Today's post is not so much of a lesson, but what will become the future of reading. I'm referring to the Kindle from Amazon. Yesterday I read this article that chronicled the launch of Amazon's Kindle DX. This new gadget immediately alerted my attention and got me thinking really fast about the future of reading and its effect on the classroom.

In its inception, I thought the Kindle would go the way of many other tech fads that try and replace a staple that has been a part of our lives and classrooms for years. Yes, the text book will be replaced someday! And when we are all wearing our conforming tin foil-ish jump suits and fulfilling all of the visions of Doc Brown in Back To The Future II, will we reflect on the good old days of the text book? It's an interesting question that I have trouble answering. In a world were everything is getting smaller and more connected, books and newspapers have continued to be a part of our daily lives. However, with the recent economy down turn and the continuing rise of free news on the web, the old standbys are slowly, but surely being replaced.

My bold prediction; The Kindle DX will replace all forms of books and newspapers. When this happens, our classrooms will change as well. Let's be honest, did we ever think the book or newspaper would be replaced? I did, but I know my father did not. So let us imagine a not so distant classroom and provide some scenarios that I can foresee via my Prophet App on my iPhone (NOTE: There is no prophet App, but give it time!).

At the beginning of the year your students come into class with your syllabus uploaded to their Kindle. They can view this anytime their Kindle is around because the newest incarnation of the Kindle has a PDF reader.

Your students sit down and you ask them about current events that they read this morning on their Kindle via their downloadable Newspaper subscription. They have access to the New York Times, Washington Post and the Boston Globe.

Your students are preforming research and have access to text books and journal articles that they can read on demand via the Kindle.

For homework your students are given their class book list and they must download all of their titles for the semester. Yes! No book numbers, no torn out pages, no graffiti, etc! A thing of beauty! And the best part is, once the book is downloaded on to the Student's Kindle, they can have that book stored for years! We are building libraries in our students hands!

As long as students don't lose their Kindle, they have access to thousands of books and documents. School Districts with a book bag policy will gladly welcome the lack of heavy text books when students can simply carry their Kindle to class and also avoid early back problems and scoliosis .

This is a lofty goal for me to imagine and there are plenty of downsides to this brave new book. The Kindle DX has a price tag of $489.99, however, I am sure the good folks at Amazon would welcome a school district discount. And what happens when our students lose this valuable piece of equipment? When you have a book, you replace it at minimal cost; a Kindle, not so much.

According to the article above five Universities will be piloting the Kindle DX next fall. It will be interesting to hear the results of this pilot program and discover new ways to incorporate this gadget into classrooms around the country. However, with any new technology we must take baby steps and see the pros and cons of it. I am not saying that the Kindle will end books in classrooms, but it stands a good chance of being in all of our curriculum sooner than later. As we storm forward in the 21st century we must be open to these new technologies and welcome them with patient arms. Things are changing faster than ever, and we need to proceed with a vision when incorporating new technologies into our lives. Especially when they are replacing trustworthy companions that have been with us for so many good years.

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