This spring I wanted to see if there was any way that the Kindle for PC software
(not to be confused with the Kindle itself) could come close to matching the experience of lounging around with a paperback novel. After buying and reading Golden Buddha
by Clive Cussler,
I found that I did, in fact, enjoy the experience. I will say that I still prefer a paper book, but I did like being able to install the software on my wife and I's HP Minis and being able to use WhisperSync
to share the books on multiple devices.
This got me to thinking, could eBooks phase out our school libraries? After a couple of discussions this spring with our librarian and technology coordinator, I decided to have the students (9-12) in my business department (small school; I'm the only business/computer teacher) install the Kindle for PC software on their machines (we have 1:1 laptops). Earlier in the day I had set up a dummy email account at Gmail
(you can use any free service) and then set up an account at Amazon.com
using the new Gmail address. I then had the students sign into their Kindle software using the email address and password I had created. They could then sync with the account and download any books that were in the account.
(NOTE: If you have a credit card associated with the account don't let the students know the password, you will want to enter it yourself. They would be able to go to Amazon and buy anything their little hearts desired).
While the students were downloading and installing the software, I went to the Kindle store and "bought" about 40 free books for our new account. The great thing about this whole thing is that all the pre-1923 books are available for free since they are out of copyright. Many greats such as Jules Verne, Jack London, Shakespeare, and many more are FREE!! The classics are now available to your whole school/class for free.
I have not talked with any representative from Amazon.com to date and I am not sure what their thoughts would be on what I did in class. During the day we did find that books that are for sale tend to have a limit of six users accessing it at a time. If this holds true, you are looking at a 6:1 ratio of students to book instead of it being 1:1 and having each one of those with a limited life. The savings for an educational organization could be huge!
Along with the 6 user limit, our assistive technology software
that allows students to highlight text in most programs and the web will not work with the Kindle software. Right now these are the only two issues. Many of my students were very excited about the prospect of being able to read on their computer. Some even went home and created their own accounts so they could purchase their own books for reading.
Some really neat features are the ability to change: the width of the readable page, text size, and background color (white, black, & sepia). These allow the students to customize the reader to them. There is also a feature that I have not spent much time with, but readers can highlight and annotate the reading, and all the notes are stored and essentially pooled together. I'm not an English or lit. teacher, but I think the ability to see what others had marked and commented on could be an awesome tool.
I know that I didn't spend any time talking about the Kindle itself, the Amazon's book-reader, but I don't see our school purchasing a piece of hardware that will only read books when we have already invested in 1:1 laptops. (I could see us implementing a 1:1 Ipod Touch program for our junior high and putting the Kindle software on it).
I would like to hear what some of you other educators think about the prospects of using the Kindle software in schools. Maybe I am off base, but I personally see this as the next big thing.
Lincoln Jr/Sr High School
Lincoln, KS 67455
www.arbookfind.com (students can go see if the book has an Accelerated Reader test before purchasing)