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eReaders Come to Stanford: The Digital Revolution and GBSP

Written by gbspcamp on Friday, August 01, 2014

eReaders Come to Stanford: The Digital Revolution and GBSP

This year, the Great Books campers on the Stanford campus weren't greeted with the usual spiral-bound paper anthologies with all the coursework...they were given Nooks.

The Stanford campus was a pilot program to see if using eReaders loaded with all of the reading material was easier or better than using the anthologies.  Below is the feedback.

From The Great Books Inquirer:

Although the Nooks seem far better than the printed anthologies, they did present problems of their own. Nielsen reported that some students were unhappy with certain aspects of the Nooks. With the paper anthologies, campers can easily highlight passages and take notes directly on the readings. The Nooks do not make this process efficient.

The Nooks are smaller and less compact than the anthologies, but they are machines, and machines don’t always work perfectly. The Nooks did not openly display the remaining battery power; so many students did not realize how low the power level was on their Nooks. Occasionally during lectures campers would lose power on their Nooks and would not be able to access the text. Some Nooks were damaged or dropped. Most campers kept the eReaders in their backpacks, where they also kept their water bottles. Many of the Nooks were damaged from being in close proximity to the water bottles, and all were replaced instead of repaired.

Stanford’s use of eReaders has stirred up some controversy among campers and Program Assistants. Although certain aspects of the Anthologies were missed, the majority of students preferred the Nook over the anthology, and even those who missed the anthology had few complaints. The students most upset by the Nooks were mostly frustrated with the Nook’s flawed programming.

Which would you prefer and why?

Category : General Information

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What they did on their summer vacation: At the Great Books program at Amherst College, reading is a joy, not a chore

At first glance, it looked like a scene from a typical day at Amherst College: about 100 students in a lecture hall, on tiered seating on three sides of the room, notebooks and digital devices like iPads at hand, while a professor stood in the well of the room, looking up at some of the young people seated above him.

The subject matter seemed a serious one. Discussion revolved at first around “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Harriet Beecher Stowe’s seminal anti-slavery novel that became a bestseller in the 1850s as the United States moved ever closer to civil war. “That was a time of growing division,” the professor said. “How different is our country today?”

In this case, though, it was early July, and the professor, Ilan Stavans, was wearing shorts and no shoes; as for the students, they looked a little young to be in college. They were, in fact, high school students, from their mid-to-late teens and from across the country and overseas, who had come to Amherst to do something not usually associated with summer camps: read.

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