Current students in an English class have a vast array of instruments with which to actively engage a text. While trying to read, and ultimately comprehend what they are reading, they have to switch between pens, highlighters, bookmarks, dictionaries, and all the while try to read a page of text that may have passed through the hands of hundreds of other students. In the past, it has been financially impossible to provide a fresh copy of a book to new students every year. In this technological age, there is a solution for the growing technological generation: the Amazon Kindle.
The Millennial Generation Responds to Technology
The main argument for why the Kindle will positively impact English classes is based on the idea that the technology generation, or "millennials", have grown up with, and therefore respond more readily to, technology. Traditional reading, for a generation that has information and technology at their fingertips, has the stigma of failing to be entertaining and engaging. Many students see reading as being just plain boring.
Meeting the millennials’ learning needs will bring reading into a more positive light. The millennial generation is made up of students that are so comfortable with technology that not only do they use it out of school, but they expect it in school. Traditional reading material needs to be combined with a more modern medium in order to increase literacy. The Kindle is the technology that combines a wide array of traditional text formats and reading formats that students are more comfortable utilizing.
Reading comprehension is an ever growing concern in schools. In all subjects, reading is a major component from kindergarten through all college levels, and affects aspects of life outside the classroom. One of the reasons for this trend is that students of this generation have lives that are so digitally centered that traditional literacy is on the decline. Although literacy is on the decline, it has never been more important.
The Kindle technology includes many interfaces that will provide a more interactive reading experience to a more technologically motivated generation. The Kindle was released in 2007, and has become enormously popular. The Kindle will virtually provide students with an iPod for books, and can display various text types, including novels, poems, short stories, newspapers, and other text formats commonly used in the classroom.
Although electronic, the Kindle allows the reader to write side notes, bookmark pages, and highlight passages. These practices are integral to active reading, and through the Kindle, they can be done in a way that is familiar to the millennial student. Generally, with printed text, once a note is written or something is highlighted, it is permanent. The reading lists that can be loaded onto the Kindle each school year will be fresh for each individual reader, without a previous reader’s leftover, often ambiguous, active reading residue.
Some basic features that will greatly aid in reading comprehension are a built in dictionary and a text-to-speech interface that will pronounce unknown words. These are features that regular printed texts lack but will be extremely beneficial to students attempting to read and understand assigned texts. Integrating the Kindle into English classes will impact the individual student’s learning and comprehension of reading material, which will increase aptitude in high stakes testing.
The importance of reading has never been greater while the literacy rates get lower. The very culture that has shaped the millennial student into the technological generation is the same culture that has resulted in a lower interest in reading and lower active and critical reading skills. Getting the Kindle into the classroom will benefit students, teachers, and society in general.