I recently found an interesting collection of student literature review/position papers from Umeå University related to a range of CS and HCI issues, including mobile technology, ubiquitous computing, table-top displays, etc. Among them was a paper by Alan Larsson that examined the role that slate-like tablet computers can play in education. It examined requirements for such devices both from the instructor’s and from the students’ perspective, analyzed them on several dimensions, and then compared three devices — an iPad, a (perhaps soon to be released) Android tablet, and an older-generation tablet computer — for their fit to the various tasks.
Blog Archive: 2010
I am trying to understand the capabilities of existing iPad applications with respect to active reading. In this spirit, I have reviewed iAnnotate, and have written about e-books in general. Mekentosj Papers is a Mac application for managing academic papers; a version of it has been ported to the iPad. The idea is that you can use it to find papers you need to read, read them, and also manage their re-finding. The app fails on all accounts.
A lot of people (like me) will use the iPad as an e-reader, among other things. It’s a good opportunity to play around with what a e-book actually can be, since the iPad offers things that Kindle can’t (color, animation…). I vote for more like this, please:
It’s in the iTunes store here.
Starting in the fall of 2010, Seton Hill University (not to be confused with Seton Hall University) is going to be equipping its students with iPads. It’s not clear from the description on the web site what the students are expected to do with these devices, or what educational advantage the iPads are likely to impart beyond the laptops the students will also receive.
But is the iPad the right tool?
There has been more news on eBook hardware front recently. Microsoft is floating a two-screen device idea reminiscent of Nick Chen‘s thesis work that he has published in part in CHI 2008. The video is worth watching. The rendering of the MS ‘Courier’ device is slick, but at this point no specs are available. A UX mockup video shows some nice ideas, but it is not clear how much of this will survive in the product. And of course it will need to compete with the Apple tablet, whether that thing materializes.
The second generation Kindle is about to be released. With a current 230,000 titles available, and new titles being added continuously, it is designed to appeal to the (well-heeled) reader on the go. The Sony PRS-505 also offers a similar reading experience, although with fewer available titles. It’s not clear, however, whether these devices represent the arrival in the mainstream of the electronic book, or just another evolutionary niche, like the Softbook™, Rocket eBook™, Palm, Newton, and other devices that preceeded them over the last twenty years.