Kindle Too Clunky for Classrooms, Says Darden

After nearly a year with the highly-touted electronic reading device, Darden students have decided overwhelmingly that the Kindle is not a great tool for the B-school classroom.

At the start of the school year, a group of 62 first year students received the Kindle DX as an alternative to the traditional paper business cases, articles and textbooks. Darden School of Business was one of seven schools selected for the program and the first to launch last fall.

“We were very excited to be part of the experiment,’’ says Michael Koenig, Darden’s director of MBA operations, who initially contacted Amazon about the pilot project. “We learned a lot and are much more prepared as a top tier business school to face the complex challenges of digital content distribution for all future Darden students.’’

When announcing the results of the study last week, Darden explained that the concern with the electronic reading devices is that they are too rigid for use in the fast-paced classrooms, where the Socratic method and case-based pedagogy means students have to be nimble.

“You must be highly engaged in the classroom every day,’’ says Koenig, and the Kindle is “not flexible enough. ”¦ It could be clunky. You can’t move between pages, documents, charts and graphs simply or easily enough compared to the paper alternatives.’’

A mid-term survey asked Kindle users two key questions: Would you recommend the Kindle DX to an incoming Darden MBA student? A total of 75-80% answered no, says Koenig.

The other survey question: Would you recommend the Kindle DX to an incoming MBA student as a personal reading device? A total of 90-95% said yes, says Koenig.

“What that says to me is that Amazon created a very well-designed consumer device for purchasing and reading digital books, magazines and newspapers,’’ says Koenig. “It’s not yet ready for prime time in the highly engaged Darden business school classroom.’’
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