Clearwater High School replaces textbooks with Kindles, for its 2000+ students
In Tampa, Florida, Clearwater High School started its new pilot program Wednesday -- from an order of 2,200 Kindles (UK K3), they issued Kindles to their 2,160 students, with spares for new students. These are replacing 5 to 6 textbooks each student normally has to carry around.
Since the price mentioned in articles is $177, they apparently bought the 3G/WiFi model.
The St. Petersburg Times shows the stacks of Kindles in a computer lab, each Kindle with a student's name on it and tailored to the student's course load, which includes English, math, science textbooks and novels. Naturally, the students are excited about it.
Principal Keith Mastorides said, "I do have a lot of kids who do not have Internet access at home. So this is the first time they'll be on a level playing field."
Other points in the article:
' Students can highlight passages and make notes in books — taboo with traditional textbooks. And the school district has designed a mobile version of PCS Portal, the district's site where students and parents can view classes, grades and more.
And since each device can access the Internet via wireless connections and a 3G cell tower signal, it will bridge the digital divide, providing Web access for students who previously had none at home, [Mastorides] said.
He is now getting inquiries from schools within the area, as well as some beyond, that want to know more about the project.
Tracy Gray, managing director of the American Institute for Research who studies educational innovation, said... "What we are really coming to understand is how students learn using digital media. The students are digital natives who have been born certainly in the last 15 to 20 years and have grown up with technology and are comfortable with it," Gray said.
While many educational institutions have talked about similar ventures, Clearwater High is the first she knows of to attempt replacing textbooks on a large scale, Gray said.
"I have heard many schools talking about this, but I am not aware of a school that has taken this giant step." '
Tampa Bay Online's story has some other details.
This was done from their Technology and Textbook fund. Commenters to this story are outraged, since apparently they just see the Kindles as needless gifts, but as with Kindle owners today, the students will probably wind up wanting to read more than they used to. The irony is that the initial plan was to get each student a computer (as is done in some other schools) but that was - no surprise - deemed too expensive.
' Students will be responsible for lost or damaged Kindles, the same way they are for textbooks, he said.
"When we looked around, we found out the Kindle was the best option," Mastorides said.
The high-tech aspect of the Kindles is a huge lure for students.
"Kids love their technology. We wanted to tap into that," he said.
. . .
Students can buy insurance for $20 to cover damage or loss of the Kindle. The insurance covers all except a $25 deductable of the $177 replacement cost the first time a student loses or damages one. A second time the deductable goes to $50.
The district, working with Amazon, can track each Kindle and shut it down if it's stolen or shows up at a pawn shop, or appears on e-Bay ... [That's interesting to know that it can be done, since Amazon is usually hands-off in this area, but the school would qualify as a large client :-) ]
Part of the experiment is to see how many are lost or broken, he said. "We'll have to see how this plays out." '
The tone of the comments to the story is quite interesting.
UPDATE to Clearwater High School for student reactions
Some comments from students, via Tampa Bay Online:
"It's fun to have electronics to learn. I think it makes us want to study more without realizing it."
"I'm about to go mess around with my Kindle!"
The story has some additional slants:
One bad reading habit — skipping over big words — can no longer be justified by excuses like, "I didn't have a dictionary."
The device has a built-in dictionary, which displays definitions for highlighted words. "It helps with reading comprehension," said senior Bennie Niles, 17.
. . .
And learning curve? For students who do not know a world without mobile computing, no big deal.
"It's just like texting," said senior Gabrielle Adams, 17, about inputting notes.
"And everybody knows how to text," Niles said.
. . .
The school district is also excited. Beyond the inquiries from schools around the country, and world, about the Kindle's viability in the classroom, there are some slight financial benefits.
John Just, Pinellas County's assistant superintendent for management information systems, said that because of savings on books, the school's English department's wish list was completely fulfilled.
"The English department wish list is always that — a wish list," Just said. "Now they're all downloaded."
These include trendy titles like Superfreakonomics and Into the Wild. '
Amazon's exclusive deal with David Morrell
Ed Renehan's e-publishing blog has succinct summaries of the latest news in the e-publishing world, and it's a must-read. Most of you already have heard about David Morrell's exclusive deal with Amazon, so I'll add Renehan's summary of the press release here and hope that you will iinvestigate his site. It has a beautifully clean layout that's a pleasure to browse.
' Amazon.com today announced that internationally bestselling author David Morrell is releasing a new, never-before-published, full-length thriller, 'The Naked Edge,' along with nine of his previously published books, in electronic book format exclusively in the Kindle Store. This is the first time any of these titles have been available electronically.
These Kindle editions will offer additional content for many of the books, including new introductions and photographs that reveal insights into the making of these modern classics. All 10 of these Morrell books are available...for download exclusively from the Kindle Store '
Here is Amazon's feature story, "David Morell on Kindle," which includes summaries for each of his 10 new Kindle books, with the covers for each displayed. Also, you can visit his author page to see ALL editions of his works.
Amazon's new Motion Gaming 101 area
This is not exactly Kindle-related but some will be interested to know that Amazon unveiled its new video game store section, Motion Gaming 101, "designed to introduce both game enthusiasts and casual gamers to new choices in motion-gaming technology, which use a player's body movements and gestures to play games."
"Our goal with Motion Gaming 101 is to eliminate some of the guesswork when it comes to choosing a console for motion gaming, and if you already own a console, to choose the right accessories and games available for your system."
Even in a Kindle world, Twitter looms
For those who haven't heard, Twitter is coming out with a brand new interface that will have a lot of features. Here's an excellent preview of what it'll be like from TechCrunch writer MG Siegler, who is in the first group to work with "the new Twitter" (it's being phased in and you'll suddenly see it), "The Best Subtle Things About New Twitter." If you do use Twitter, this is an extremely helpful, thorough preview.
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