In the autumn term I started to think about Kindles in the classroom. I was getting tired of photocopying the same sheets every year and having them ripped, graffitied or thrown away by the students using them. If I had a class set of Kindles, I mused,
- I could make my worksheets PDFs on the Kindles and use them year after year
- I could write my own material instead of buying textbooks
- I could use more complicated words, thanks to the built in dictionary – perhaps this would have a positive impact on literacy
And why Kindles and not something sexier, like iPads? Precisely because they’re not sexy. Black and white screens, not backlit, not particularly useful for anything other than reading….they’re not high on the list of most kids’ desirable kit. I think the chances of a kid walking off with one is quite low.
I concluded Kindles would pay for themselves eventually. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anybody to help me fund my project. Emails from Amazon fobbing me off made regular appearances in my inbox.
Then, in November, I found out the Federation were distributing grants to schools for new technologies. This project involves using something in the classroom for two terms and blogging about it, and then passing it on to another school and trialling something else. I put my Kindle request on the bid and was successful. Hurrah! They are being ordered today: a set of 26.
I have decided to go with the 3G model. Initially I was working on the expectation that I would have wireless Kindles, since they are considerably cheaper. I don’t have wireless in my mobile classroom, but it’s not very secure either so the Kindles will live in the main block and synch when I bring them back up at the end of the day.
However, I changed my mind. Here’s why.
1. Schools can claim the VAT back, which makes the 3G price a bit more palatable.
2. The 3G offered by Kindle is free, internationally, for life. This is an outstandingly good deal, especially since there is a built in (though experimental) browser.
3. Wireless access would mean the Kindles being set up on the school network, which would be several hours of work for somebody. When they go to their next school, it will be another several hours of work.
(There is a small fee for receiving emailed files over 3G so wireless connection is still advisable, but it’s not something that has to happen before the Kindles can be used).
4. The battery life on the Kindle is roughly a month, if the wireless is switched off. Wireless would have to be switched on all the time, or I’d have to go through each one and manually switch it on each time I wanted to synch….yawn. With 3G, I can ask pupils to switch the wireless on in the classroom and they can download the documents. They can then switch the wireless off again. Less charging necessary.
5. We can take them out with us, on field trips, abroad, wherever, and they will still be usable, even where there are no wireless hotspots.
Now I need to start writing materials for them. Watch this space!