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Kindle DX Pilot Program
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, Amazon.com’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.