What we hope to achieve in the pilot
There were several goals for the e-reader pilot:
- That there would be no sacrifice in the classroom experience owing to the intervention of technology. Readings must be delivered with the same clarity as those presented in other delivery formats, e.g. selections of books on shelf reserve, PDF files delivered through e-Reserves, and xeroxed readings presented to students via a library reserve reading desk.
- That the use of an e-reader would offer convenience to the course participants. E-readers can make an entire course's readings available for study, citation, and precept discussions. The contents of the e-reader can be searched, bookmarked, highlighted and annotated. The retrieval of information is extremely flexible, but at the expense of some freedom of annotation in having to type, rather than write notes on paper.
- That the desire to print or photocopy be reduced. Since the inception of digital document delivery on campus, printing has increased, rather than lessened. Last year, 10.5 million sheets of paper were used in campus computing clusters. That is equivalent to 100,000 reams of paper, or about 5,000 trees. An e-reader obviates the need to print. The pilot hopes to discover whether students can overcome the habit to print or photocopy required readings for a course, without hindering their ability to learn.
- That the unique strengths of current e-readers be explored. Current devices on the market have the ability to deliver daily periodicals, updates on RSS feeds, and almost instant access to hundreds of thousands of books. Will the convenience of these features be more useful than the physical qualities of a print book? Will they be of any advantage to scholarship? Those are questions we would like to investigate.