I'm downloading Dan Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol, on one of our test Kindles that we recently purchased. While I'm a huge fan and can't wait to read it myself, the real reason I'm downloading it is for my 14-year old. Not only does he have language processing issues that make comprehension and retention an issue for him, but (probably as a result) really dislikes reading. However, for a summer reading project, he discovered Digital Fortress, the first book of any length that he actually enjoyed.
Since we have the Kindles (and will have Sony Readers soon) to evaluate them in a variety of educational contexts, I figure handing one to a kid with reading challenges wasn't a bad way to start. The Kindle and the Reader both obviously lend themselves to actual books, but that doesn't make them useless in education. Obviously, the more kids read, the better.
iRex as well is jumping on board with their new Reader device and there is plenty of speculation about what the competition will do to the market. And yet, perhaps the most interesting development is Microsoft's potential entry into the market with a tablet-like device that just happens to function as a color e-reader.
According to Business Week,
...Microsoft is working on a dual-screen booklet-shaped device code-named Courier that uses both a stylus and finger gestures to operate. Microsoft's device appears to boast touchscreen capabilities similar to those in Sony (SNE) electronic book readers, but in color.
Since the infamous Apple tablet remains vaporware, one has to wonder if it won't be Microsoft that will bring us the Holy Grail of educational e-readers: a device with multiple touch-based input options, Internet connectivity, and a color screen that could do justice to electronic textbooks.
I'm not making any predictions here, but wouldn't it be wild if first Microsoft brought us a pretty solid operating system in Windows 7, jumped successfully into the cloud with their Web Apps, and then gave us the 1:1 Ed Tech device for which we've all been waiting? Not the company you might expect, but I won't protest if they can pull it off.