Fast Company: E-Readers Fail At Education
Is our desire for gadgetry getting ahead of what our brains actually need?
... A recent University of Washington study interviewed 39 first-year graduate students in the university's Department of Computer Science & Engineering, which participated in a pilot study of Amazon's Kindle DX (a large-screen e-reader). By seven months into the study, fewer than 40% of the students did their schoolwork on the Kindle. The problem: the Kindle has poor note-taking support, doesn't allow for easy skimming, and makes it difficult for students to look up references (in comparison with computers and textbooks). As a result, some of the students interviewed kept sheets of paper with their Kindle case to take notes, and other read near computers so that they could easily look up references.
There's another, larger problem, according to the U of W:
The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues such as the location on the page and the position in the book to go back and find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.
Except for the cognitive mapping issue, these are all are technical problems that could all be fixed in future Kindle upgrades. The other problem is larger: Are we getting excited about a future that our brains aren't ready for? Could books have developed not simply because they were the available technology, but because they actually convey information to our brains in a more efficient way? If we're pushing technologies for learning that, cognitively, make it harder to learn, we need to take a step back. ...