Wednesday, July 28, 2010

E-reader-udition

I just got my first Kindle, so I'm a few years behind the techno-curve, but that's no reason that I shouldn't start talking about what a good e-reader really ought to be. First, everybody knows that the real bucks are in textbooks. Second, everybody also knows that current textbooks suck. They are bulky, heavy, hard to manipulate and search, and, worst of all, they just lie there, like the dead trees they are.

So what should a good e-reader be? It's got to be sharp like a Kindle, colorful like an I-Pad, and it's got to be coupled to powerful educational software. Who want's to spend big bucks on a textbook only to still have to drag yourself out of bed at 11 AM to go to a lecture? A good textbook ought to store any lectures and display them on screen (or your television) when you're darn good and ready. References should be hot linked to the relevant portions of the referent. Equations, graphs, and data ought to be live, manipulable, and coupled. If there are additions, subtractions or partial differential equations to be faced, the book ought to know how, and how to explain them. If exercises are to be done, they should be scored and graded automatically. (That might not be practical for essay questions, but at least they should be auto emailed to the Prof or TA,