Amazon.com is touting their Kindle at School education program in a video posted to their YouTube account today. These trial runs, which incorporate the Kindle into students’ homework and daily classroom activities, have taken place at schools like Clearwater High School and Curtis Fundamental Elementary. The video features students and faculty speaking about their experiences using Amazon’s eReaders as educational tools.
The students interviewed say they are much more excited to read their textbooks now that they are offered on the Kindle. One stated: “Usually I just gave up on a book, but now with the Kindle, I do a lot of reading.” They like the portability of the device compared to a pile of large, glossy, hardbacks (we all remember those, don’t we?). Their teachers agree that the Kindle seems to make reading more interesting for students who would otherwise be disengaged. Giovanna Thomas, a third grade teacher, notes that those who read at a lower level are less intimidated by longer books when given the option to read them on the Kindle. Margin control, line spacing, and font size adjustments allow students to have more control over their reading experience, and text-to-speech is especially favored by early learners and children with disabilities. Ironically, TTS and audio support have been removed from the latest edition of the Kindle, but the Kindles offered in these programs tend to be Kindle 2s or 3s. You can see Kindle 3, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Fire models used at these featured schools.
Also introduced in the video is Whispercast, a wireless synching program that allows thousands of different students to receive individualized content for their Kindles. This eliminates the problem of students having to download their course materials themselves, or go through the extra step of side-loading files via USB. Teachers can select the eBooks they want students to read, enter them into the program, and push them out over Wifi to their devices. If one or two students need an extra book as a part of their individualized lesson plan, teachers can simply add it on to that student’s eBook list. Administrators in the video claim that this system has worked well to accommodate the thousands of different students at their schools.