We’ve looked hard at the Kindle and experiences with usage here in the school district.

The benefit of a dedicated eBook reader, at a glance is at two levels:

1. Students who are proficient readers, or slightly below. We find that eBook readers do not necessarily teach students to read. They have to have a minimum reading proficiency for effective use.

2. Teacher-led – the teacher can read eBook from Kindle to class.

Pros
– Raises attention to plight of students who lack instructional materials

– A perfect way to utilize current technology in our digital age.

– Is right in line with new textbook delivery models – eBooks.

– Further advocates supporting education through an individual’s donation. If you cannot physically read to a child, you can personally influence them through a donated eBook. Maybe there’s an angle here for “reading digitally to a student, no matter where you are…”

– Once the process is established, donations are “virtually” immediate in benefiting students. eBooks show up almost immediately on Kindles once purchased. Cant do that with other forms of aid.

– Given a good, efficient process, it could be very efficient in practice – not alot of overhead to manage.

– If established right, the introduction of a Kindle to a student in need, whether in a developing country or disadvantaged American student, can be a vehicle for further delivery, or influence. Continuous interaction with students possessing eBook readers is possible, through additional eBook donations and some of the new proposed open aspects that Amazon has announced for the Kindle. Year by year, donors can be engaged with the same or different students.

– Donors can make recurring donations, hence get benefit of keeping the technology sustainable for the student. Maybe a tax write-off, if donation is done properly?

Cons

– Think of language of eBook for intended audience of students. Amazon does have the advantage of being available in other countries, but there may be some limitations in this regard. The eBook donated by anyone would have to be in a specific language for the intended students.

– Amazon has that 1:1 delivery model for the Kindle, which prompted my initial blog at the Education Industry Investment Forum. One Kindle to One email address. If you could get The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to participate, perhaps there would be leverage for Amazon to provide a more flexible way to administer a fleet of Kindles from a higher level account or multiple accounts. I can explain in more detail limitations of their current delivery model.

– Once the Kindle gets to a developing country or disadvantaged American student, might be thinking of next steps.

Neither Pro or Con, just some modeling ideas:

– If you utilize 1 email account that is never changed, folks could donate by buying an Amazon Gift Card. I use these all the time for surveys that I complete on IT and covert them to eBooks.
– Do a dedicated website to cull contributions once you have established foundation support. That is, open it up with web outreach.
– Have real time statistics (# eBooks donated) and eBook experiences by students documented through the website. Personal podcasts perhaps by whomever is coordinating the distribution locally. “See a student reading in real time… from your generous donation”, etc.
– Accessories for each Kindle will be needed.
– But if you focus on doing this from starting with marquee foundation (B&M Gates), you could really foster a grass roots initiative.

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