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Not Quite Ready for Prime Time in Online Education:

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The Kindle and book readers in early 2010

The Kindle, Nook, and a slew of electronic book readers are rapidly emerging on the scene. They offer great features–easy reading screens, ability to hold hundreds of books, limited Web access, and automated searching.

While useful, they also are not quite ready for online education. The Kindle, for example, currently lacks pagination for use in the formal citations that your professors love. It is also not ADA 508 compliant–doesn’t provide sufficient access for blind and handicapped as required for universities by Federal law. Most importantly for our undergraduates, APUS doesn’t have mechanisms to purchase licenses for student use or to provide direct links from the classroom. You will need to buy such volumes on your own–like students at other schools.

We expect this situation to change. One reader coming on the market offers dual screens, which could in theory be used to ingest a classroom and provides other application benefits for those in the sciences. We will continue to monitor and invite student comments to help in the quest.

Unfortunately, we’re still in the early stages of the Web revolution. It took a full fifty years after Guttenberg before Aldus Manutius invented the pocket book and the portable reading delights, which we hope the Kindle can ultimately match.

By Fred Stielow, Dean of Libraries & Educational Materials
American Public University System

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