Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category


n506764147_628240_7819There has been a lot of buzz lately about the latest version of the Amazon Kindle – the DX – and its potential role in higher education. The DX version of the Kindle has a larger screen and was created to market to customers who enjoy having their newspaper subscription appear remotely on their e-Readers. The larger screen allows users to view more of the article at one time. It is atypical for a company to offer a larger electronic device after offering a smaller version and charge more for it. However, newspaper readers may enjoy a device that better simulates the paper version.

Now there is talk about the e-Reader replacing textbooks in colleges. This would greatly reduce the amount of paper used in producing college materials, especially when new versions of textbooks come out yearly with only a few small changes. Eventually, these changes could be downloaded like software updates. Amazon announced that Pearson Education, Cengage Learning and Wiley Higher Education have agreed to make their textbooks available in the Kindle store and six colleges will test the device later this year. Although the price point on the e-Reader is too high for mass marketing (about $500), it is less expensive than a years worth of textbooks – if the e-versions are not expensive.

Outside of higher education, less expensive e-Readers could help underprivileged children have access to books that they would normally not have access to. How about One e-Reader Per Child? In many areas of world, communities do not have access to current textbooks. They use older versions that do not have updated theories on science or updated accounts of history. Or, in some cases, teachers must teach only from memory.

This is especially true in refugee populations, with internally displaced people, and other education undertaken in emergencies. Setting up a school in crisis, is an important way to keep children safe and reduce possible post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. It also greatly increases opportunities for children. If humanitarian agencies were equipped with rugged low cost e-Readers, children could have access to their national curriculums without the need for traditional textbooks, which they are unlikely to carry with them in the case of an emergency migration. If each child was using an e-Reader, their education would suffer less from disruption and they could continue their progressing to the next education level.

E-readers would reduce the costs of producing textbooks and shipping them to remote areas. Children could have access to the latest versions of textbooks with up to date historic accounts and scientific discoveries. They would also have access to dictionaries, other reference manuals, and a library of fiction and non-fiction books which would not be available otherwise. Ultimately, children would be better able to compete with students outside of their communities, have more opportunities, become better-equipped leaders, and have a greater chance for success.

It is important for us to think about how new technologies can positively impact underprivileged communities because all communities are inter-related and integral for a healthy world.

Please note: The phrase ‘One e-Reader Per Child’ is a tribute to the One Laptop Per Child program which seeks to provide low cost laptops to children in the poorest communities.


Read Full Post »