Kindle Fire will be the technology Mobile Learning was waiting for. Plausibly.
Cheap and pocketable, Kindle Fire is an exciting opportunity. Here, Amazon is trading off the lure of a bigger, iPad like screen with its deep reservoir of content. One would think they would actively pursue the education market, leaving iPad out to the lifestyle users.
Whether or not this will happen would be determined by whether or not Amazon tries to redefine the Academic publishing business. This is already under serious threat from Internet and Open Access movements. Amazon may want to position Kindle Fire as a sort of panacea to academic publishers, as they tried to sell the idea of Kindle to the book publishers and newspaper groups earlier. So far, Apple and Samsung looked the other way as far as Academic journals are concerned; Amazon indeed has a bit of game-changing opportunity.
I have previously said that I would not buy a Kindle as I did not want to surrender my book-reading to one single platform. Printed books were an wonderful open platform - shareable, something you could physically own yet not exclude other people from using - with which I am in love with. I did not believe, despite Kindles popping up all over in British Rail and Tube, that people will give up on books. Indeed, Kindles are easier to read from while on the beach, and Kindle is a nifty little device to make your latest Mills-and-Boon look like Bible, to be read with impunity on the train. But books are meant to be more than just reading material: They are to be owned, part of a person's identity, a constant companion even at the loneliest moments of one's life. Kindle was unlikely to take over that space.
But learning is different. Yes, I preserved my text books even when they are out of date, but one can see text books less emotionally. Particularly if they can be made cheaper through this alternate model of distribution. They should be, as one of the big cost components for many textbooks is the need for updates and revisions, which can be done easily once everyone has migrated to a digital platform. The linkages between lectures, text books and reference materials can be nifty and time-saving, and the allure of being able to buy a copy of a book referred to in the bibliography of a scholarly paper with a touch of a button is really alluring. This is the ultimate 'App'-ization of knowledge, and Kindle Fire seems to be poised to deliver this.
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