most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 19, number 2, winter 2010
university of washington
CSE logo
 home CSE Home     Winter 2010 MSB    MSB Archive    Contact Info 
Distinguished Lecturer Series   Simonyi in Space   Myhrvold in the Kitchen   More Familiar Terrain Chair's message New Faculty Additions   Su-In Lee   Anup Rao   Luke Zettlemoyer News   Girl Geek Dinner   Datagrams   CSE Alum in NYTimes Kindle DX Pilot Program Awards   TR35 Winners   CRA Undergrads
msb19.2 PDF

About MSB

MSB is a twice yearly publication of UW CSE supported by the Industrial Affiliates Program.

Editor: Kay Beck-Benton
Contributors: Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, Sandy Marvinney
Photo credits: Bruce Hemingway, Rod Prieto

We Want to Hear from You!

Do you have news you’d like to share with the CSE community? Comments or suggestions for future issues of MSB? Let us know! Email the editors at and be sure to visit us online at:

Kindle DX Pilot Program

Kindle-using grad students
CSE grad students Brian Van Essen
(background) and Colin Gordon participate
in CSE590, one of the five UW CSE
graduate courses that used the Kindles
during fall quarter

At the start of fall quarter 2009, each incoming CSE graduate student received a Kindle DX,’s latest wireless reading device, to use in place of traditional printed textbooks and research papers in their first-year graduate courses. The University of Washington is one of seven colleges and universities conducting a Kindle DX pilot program with Amazon. At the UW, Computer Science & Engineering and the Foster School of Business are participating in the pilot. The other institutions taking part in the pilot are Princeton University, Case Western Reserve University, Reed College, Arizona State University, Pace University, and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

The pilot program’s goals are to explore the use of electronic readers in university classes and to discover their strengths and weaknesses relative to traditional content delivery. As part of the pilot, UW CSE will participate in assessments in cooperation with all participating institutions and will also conduct usability assessments to focus specifically on the Kindle DX’s annotation facilities.

Under the direction of Professor Ed Lazowska, approximately 40 students are participating at UW CSE, and course materials from 12 classes have been made available. In addition to reducing textbook cost and backpack weight, use of the Kindle DX should dramatically reduce printing and its environmental impact and cost. We estimate that the typical first-year UW CSE graduate student prints 1,000 pages of research papers as reading material for courses.

As anticipated, students are using their Kindles to read research papers and other items that would normally be read on a computer or in paper form, which is reducing the number of pages printed. As one grad student noted: “Reading on the Kindle is much more pleasant than on the computer.” Early feedback also suggests that the Kindle user interface, which is outstanding for personal pleasure reading, could benefit from some changes for the educational environment. Overall, however, the students responses have been fairly positive.

CSE logo
Computer Science & Engineering Box 352350, University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195-2350 Privacy policy and terms of use