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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Is the Kindle a Good Choice for Early Education Classrooms?

We’ve been seeing a great deal of interest in the potential savings provided by the Kindle in educational settings lately.  Now that some of the initial antagonism is out of the way, people are coming to see eReaders as valuable tools.  It needs to be kept in mind, however, that as much as the Kindle can serve as a book analogue in the majority of situations it is still not a book and not suitable for every single situation where books are used.  How we decide which situations to use them in is something that still remains vague.

Perhaps the most interesting case is the early education classroom.  I’m thinking Primary School here (1st – 5th/6th grade).  On the surface it makes perfect sense.  Using a Kindle rather than buying books means that schools can potentially avoid everything from lost reading material to profanity scribbled in the margins of textbooks.  Students wouldn’t even need to worry about forgetting their books on the way to or from school.  For every positive, though, there is a negative.

The most obvious is probably also the most trivial to fix.  Kids break things.  Whether through overwhelming exuberance or deliberate malice, from time to time they just tend to do damage as a group even if the same isn’t necessarily true of any specific individual.  The Kindle, whatever else you might say about it, is not the most durable piece of electronics in the world.  Amazon has an amazing return policy and does great work in making sure that damaged E Ink screens are replaced when the occasion calls for it, sometimes even for customers long out of the warranty period, but we have to assume they would balk at 5-10 free service orders per classroom every six months.  Given the investment already being made in texts on a regular basis, it still might make sense to go with the Kindle.  At the very least, a good case can prevent all but the most destructive acts from doing damage in my experience.

More important would be the issue of efficacy.  While the Kindle is great for sequential reading, its limited navigational options and slow refresh rate can be a pain for referring to scattered parts of a book.  On top of that, until color screens come into fashion in the eReading world there will always be some question of whether enough is being done to hold student attention.  There is a reason that most textbooks for children are thoroughly illustrated and brightly colored.

Rather than just assuming a stance on this, I have to say that it feels like an issue best decided through trials.  There are surely ways to use the Kindle properly in these classrooms, just as there are obviously ways for it to be used poorly.  The only way to really figure out how to make it work is to throw the new technology into the mix and see how the kids take to it.  I do believe that exposing children to this sort of technology early in their lives can have positive effects on both their technical proficiency and their love of reading, but one person’s anecdotal evidence about a kid who loves their Kindle is hardly enough for me to argue for an educational policy even when the anecdote is mine.

I’m curious what you all think on this.  Do Kindles and kids make a productive combination?

Kindle 3 Cleared ADA Hurdle?

With the announce of the new and updated Kindle, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) may have offhandedly and with little fanfare cleared away their largest hurdle to being considered a valid teaching tool.  Earlier this year, courts ruled that the use of Kindle devices in the classroom was discriminatory against students with disabilities since navigation of menus via the popular text-to-speech option was unavailable and therefore the device was effectively inaccessible to the visually impaired.  Today, if you look toward the very bottom of all the feature lists on the sales page, you can find a quietly inserted “Voice Guide” for menus that will lead users through navigation in exactly the way they were told was necessary.

So, can we expect to be seeing eBook-based curricula and eReaders on the student shopping lists in the near future?  It’s difficult to say for certain, but chances aren’t great in most places.  Given the new features, and especially the $139 pricing of the Kindle WiFi, it seems a more viable option than ever before for new students.  It will take years for it to truly establish a presence, however.  Doing analytical reading on such a device requires completely different notation habits than are currently espoused by most students and professors, so our most likely early adopters in the education scene are going to be incoming students without much in the way of established habits.  I think it’s going to happen, especially in the humanities, but it’ll take time and exposure, since there’s more to academic reading than simply turning the pages and enjoying yourself.