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Thinking About Kindle Fire for the Classroom? Education World Tracks the Trend

July 9, 2012

When the Kindle Fire was released in late 2011, many wondered whether the product would become a serious iPad competitor, making tablets accessible and affordable for all schools. The Education World article Kindle Fire: Boon for Schools? opened discussion on the issue.

The full-color tablet, priced at $199, offers e-reader capabilities, Web browsing, apps and the ability to stream TV and movies. Users can even read formatted books and magazines in color. Will the smaller size and lower cost of this new tablet lead to widespread adoption by schools?

“The Kindle Fire has great promise in the education area,” said Jeannie Novak, founder of Indiespace and lead author and series editor for Game Development Essentials. Novak said the smaller size of the Kindle Fire is ideal for kids in elementary, middle and high school.

She added that the device may encourage the creation of new Web-based tablet applications. “The fact that [the Amazon Silk browser] is connected to Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing infrastructure, where some other virtual classroom apps already reside, bodes well for a new breed of learning management systems.”

Others have suggested that the Fire evens the playing field for schools with less funding. “The price point is so low that we expect the Fire to gain traction in schools. We see every school in the country using a tablet—iPad or Fire—in the next couple years,” said Mike Doonan, whose company develops speech therapy apps called Speech with Milo. Doonan added “It remains to be seen whether [the Fire] gets developer support to make educational apps available like we see on the iPad.”

Admittedly, educators face challenges in finding quality educational apps for the Kindle Fire. Unlike Apple’s App Store, the apps area of Amazon (which produces the Kindle Fire) is still in its infancy when it comes to classroom relevance. Education World has, however, offered assistance to educators by highlighting some of the most noteworthy apps presently available.

See the recent articles Top Five Free Kindle Fire Apps for Education and More Great Kindle Fire Apps for the Classroom, which identify free and low-cost student-friendly apps that work on the device.

In addition, not everyone is convinced that schools will embrace the Kindle Fire, especially since Amazon itself doesn’t seem to be going after schools with the new device—yet. “Amazon does not seem to be targeting the education market with this tablet,” said Karl Becker, president of KB Productions and an iOS and Android software developer.

Still, Becker agreed that the price is going to be alluring to schools. “The extremely low price of the Amazon Kindle Fire will make it irresistible to school districts on tight budgets. If school districts start spending money on educational software on Android, the Kindle Fire will succeed in the education marketplace,” he said.

Textbooks also could be a big factor in the Kindle Fire’s success, since students and teachers could access textbooks without buying through Amazon. “Instructors and students will be able to take advantage of Amazon’s textbook rental system, offering an additional cost-cutting option, as well as the ability for instructors to easily utilize their own textbooks in the classroom,” said Novak.

For more coverage of cutting-edge classroom tech trends, visit the technology section of EducationWorld.com.

 

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