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PechaKucha Session 4: Assessing e-book readers for academic practices -- 126


16:15 - 17:15 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 2.220

The potential of small handheld devices for staff and students to read text and manage organisational aspects of their work has been investigated since their inception (e.g. Marshall & Ruotolo, 2002). Recent studies have give increasing attention to e-book readers, which are promoted as a feasible alternative to print (Horizon, 2010) including their significance for student academic work (Janssen & Martin, 2009).

Documents that staff routinely use, annotate, correct or mark, are often distributed and stored in a digital format. E-book readers are lightweight, portable and capable of holding quantities of e-documents, some with enhanced note-taking features and therefore e-book readers may have the potential to enhance staff practices.

A trial has been carried out at a UK university in which 15 academic staff were asked to use one, out of three different types e-book readers, in both academic and personal contexts over a 4-6 week period. Structured interviews with participants followed the adaptation of activity theory by Engeström (1987) to ensure that all relevant aspects were encompassed.

Participants found the e-book readers easy to use and comfortable to read for a wide variety of non academic purposes. Their light weight and battery longevity contributed to a positive experience in a variety of locations and modes of transport, such as home, holiday, train and bus. In contrast, however, they found that in academic contexts (e.g. research, committee meetings, student coursework) the readers required significant adaptation of personal routines and conventions. Key limitations identified included the mis-match between an academic's existing practice (e.g. non-linear reading accessing multiple documents simultaneously) and that imposed by the technology, display and readability issues resulting from the file types used to commonly distribute key documents (e.g. journal papers, committee papers), along with the ability to flexibly annotate. However the positive response for the use of the technology in the leisure domain does identify potential, particularly in overcoming the key constraint of reading substantial documents on-screen, and we will include reference to solutions for enabling this use.

This presentation will report on the key findings from the study and will outline possible adaptations for overcoming some of the limitations described.



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PK presentation 'E-book Reader in an Academic Context' available online at: http://goo.gl/QRW2R

Wednesday, 12 September 2012, 09:43