Classroom Kindles: part 2

In the first instance I’m using the Kindles with my year 11 class. My year 11s being generally trustworthy, and also extremely flattered to be given the chance to try the Kindles first, I gave them two hours to play with little intervention from me, although I stayed logged into the Manage My Kindle page of Amazon so that I could keep an eye on what they were doing.

Several things became apparent very quickly.
Firstly, kids are far more inquisitive and quick to figure things out than I am.
Secondly, perhaps the 3G was not such a good idea after all: almost straight away, they were in the Kindle store, shopping for free books. I am grateful that there is no payment facility attached to the Amazon account, or I’m afraid we would have bought a lot of books.
Thirdly, I have never seen students as excited about reading before.

Here are some things my inquisitive year 11s were able to discover:
– you can get onto Facebook but it’s really slow
– you can read and you can listen
– you can choose the voice for narration, either male or female
– you can change the speed at which it reads to you
– there are lots of free books available
– it’s easier to read than a computer screen
– you can change the name of the device from the device (and also, I now understand, the email address; though thankfully none of them tried that).

Last week Tim Dalton wrote an excellent post on using Kindles in a school library, which confirmed some other things that I had gleaned from our trial session: namely, that you can distribute a book to only six devices per Amazon account. This appears to apply to even free books, as I tried to send the Communist Manifesto to all the Kindles but it did not work.

I think the way we’re going to get round this is to set up five Amazon accounts and have six Kindles registered to each one. When it comes to paying for books (something I have not yet really thought about, since I will initially be writing my own Kindle editions of our revision guides), I’d be happy to pay for the books several times over but this facility does not appear to be available, though perhaps I just need to look a bit more carefully.

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6 Responses to Classroom Kindles: part 2

  1. Dave Gale says:

    Hi Sally.

    This is a really exciting project. I totally agree with students’ (appalling) lack of respect for keeping worksheets/resources for future use.

    My mum has just bought a kindle and I do like the readability of it. I don’t know much about the Amazon account side of things but you seem to be working round that well.

    I found out that you can send image files to kindle too (my mun has photos of grand children on hers) which seems brilliant for history.

    My concerns:
    Less sexy than ipad = less desirable to be stolen. True, but they are very portable and still worth >£100

    Are you rewriting text books? That doesn’t seem efficient. Could you collaborate with others to create a crowd sourced bank of resources?

    Why 26? Is that how many are in your biggest class?

    However, as I said, very interesting and you mentioned that the project involved passing them on to another teacher…. 😉


    • sallythorne says:

      Hi Dave,

      26 was the maximum number I could get for the budget allocated. Originally I was looking at 30 WiFi only but decided on 3G in the end so the number came down, and I didn’t get cases for them. While I have bigger classes, I envisaged using them one-between-two at KS3.

      I’m not rewriting text books yet. I have converted our revision guide to a Kindle format, and some worksheets we had already written into PDFs, so it hasn’t been that much extra work. I have a LOT of material I have written for my classes over the years as so often the text books just don’t cut it. Good to know pictures work; I found out from a friend today that they can be used for podcasts too, which I hadn’t thought of before.

      Thanks for the interest!

  2. iseroma says:

    This project sounds wonderful. I recently acquired 12 Kindles and am wondering about purchasing duplicate copies of books. You said your solution was to set up multiple Amazon accounts (six Kindles per account). Do you know if it’s possible just to keep purchasing additional copies of the book and to keep all your Kindles on the same Amazon account?

    The reason I ask is that I’d like students to be able to share public notes and highlights. With different Amazon accounts, only six students at a time could see each other’s highlights.

    I’m also asking Amazon, but I figured I should ask here, too. Thank you for your Kindle project.

    • sallythorne says:

      Sorry it has taken me so long to write a reply! I’m afraid I don’t know if that’s possible. Did you get an answer from Amazon? I haven’t found them very forthcoming when I’ve had questions in the past, but I think I am asking the wrong questions, or the wrong people!

      • Thank you for your response. It looks like Amazon is moving to a solution called Whispercast, but I don’t think it will work for me. It does not allow for six Kindles to share a book title. Thank you again for your help.

    • sallythorne says:

      Hi Mark, I have a Head-of-Year colleague who is looking at using these to improve literacy by using them in tutor time. He rang Amazon and they said that only certain publishers limit the texts bought to 6 devices – so it is possible. Our IT department recently loaded them all with the complete works of Shakespeare, which I presume was free and has gone on all the devices without a problem (twice! Not sure what happened there). Finally, if we subscribe the school to Prime we can take advantage of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library to borrow a title a month.
      This is all from though and I see you are in the US. It sounds like your project is going well – please let me know if I can help with anything.

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