According to a recent article, The University of Wisconsin-Madison is conducting a Kindle DX pilot for one of its history seminars this semester. This pilot is a separate initiative from the Amazon Kindle DX pilots occurring at seven universities this fall. The program is being funded by the library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was initiated so that the university could have their own data on the use of the e-readers in the classroom. The pilot includes the use of 20 Kindle DX devices which the university purchased and loaned to the students along with the eight e-texts required for the course.
The university reports that overall the devices have been well received by the students but there are both pros and cons with the e-readers. Some of the pros expressed by the students include the E Ink screen because it looks like paper and does not strain eyes, the ability to save money on textbooks in the long run, and the ability to save paper. The university agrees with the students that a significant amout of paper could be saved by going digital. It is estimated that about 16 million individual pages are printed on the campus each year which equates to 180 trees. Some of the cons expressed by the students include the lack of a touch screen and small keyboard. One student also pointed out that the Kindle technology will need to be enhanced before it can replace paper.
While the student reactions may change over the course of the semester, this is the second university to report that initial feedback from the pilots has been mostly positive. In addition, many of the cons expressed by the students pertain to specific features on the device. We can expect that some or all of these features will be enhanced on future e-readers making the devices even more appealing to students.