Case Western Reserve University students will use the Amazon's Kindle electronic reader in classrooms this fall.
Case Western Reserve University students will be among the first in the nation to use textbooks on the new Kindle electronic reader next fall , using a large-screen version of the device to be unveiled today in New York.
Students in the chemistry, computer science and freshman seminar classes using the handheld Kindle next fall at CWRU will be asked to compare their experience to that of classmates using traditional paper textbooks, Lev Gonick, the university's chief information officer, said in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
CWRU is one of six universities nationally picked to test the equipment, according to the report. Amazon, the company that produces Kindle, has worked out a deal with publishers to load textbooks onto the devices, which will be supplied to students, Gonick told the newspaper.
The ability to link to an Internet site from text, as a way of learning more about a word or phrase, is one of the features that has attracted interest in Kindle. Books and periodicals are downloaded directly onto the device for a fee.
But will the device be as useful for textbooks, which often aren't read from start to finish in the way a reader would work through a novel?
Students flip back and forth through chapters, highlighting sections and bookmarking others. To be useful to students, Kindle textbooks also must be able to accommodate that, said CWRU students interviewed on Tuesday.
While CWRU President Barbara Snyder prepared to appear on stage in New York with Amazon Chief Executive Jeffrey Bezos today, students on campus were cramming for finals using the tools of the trade for college students these days: Laptops, iPhones and, usually, paper textbooks.
"You don't know how useful something is until you try it," said Yugarshi Mondal, a senior chemistry and economics major from Chicago, comparing the prospect of a Kindle to his iPhone, which has applications he has come to rely on.
"Cost-wise, it would be nice" to download more course materials, but Lehman said Kindle or any other product has to be easy to use. "It would depend a lot on the format," she said.
Mustafa Ascha, a sophomore economics and philosophy major from Gates Mills, perked up immediately when he heard about the Kindle plan on Tuesday. Ascha, who was working on a small Eee PC laptop at a cafe in CWRU's Thwing Center, said he doesn't bring his 15-inch laptop with him to classes because it's too big, but he wouldn't be deterred by the idea of toting a Kindle.
The key, he said, will be the ease of use, because students don't want to have to learn how to use the device.
"Students want to open a book and go to a page," he said. "If you have to do any more than that, students won't use it."
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