By Lenore Holditch
After the release of the cutting-edge, media-enriched iPad apps iBooks 2 and iTunes U in early January, Apple may have thought it would be the only Fortune 500 company with the technological goods powerful enough to monopolize digital tablets in the classroom. But with this week’s announcement of Amazon’s latest technological creation, Kindle Whispercaster, Apple may have just found some fierce competition in the educational market.
What is Whispercaster?
Whispercaster is a free online tool/software that essentially allows a user to control Kindle features on other synced devices from one centralized location. Most importantly it can allow a user to manage content distribution, permit document sharing, provide password protection, and can even block purchases and social media access which, in theory, is what’s needed for teachers to provide a safe-learning experience for their students when using an e-reader.
Is the Kindle Better?
That’s a hard question to answer, but for educational purposes it might be. Not only can Whispercaster allow teachers to customize the way students use their electronic e-reader device, but it’s also more cost effective.
While yes, some primary and secondary schools around the country have already adopted district-use of iPads in the classroom, they are far and in between. The iPad’s major downfall for ruling the classroom sector is the price. iPads have a market value of $500 and even with additional discounts that some school districts are offered, it’s still too costly for some parents and school districts to purchase. It doesn’t matter that the iPad is marketed as a long-term investment either.
Purchasing a Kindle Fire, on the other hand, is sold at half the price of an iPad—with additional discounts, it may be even cheaper. Even if Apple does in fact release the iPad Mini which is rumored to cost a fraction of the standard iPad price, the Kindle Fire will still be cheaper. And if a Kindle gets lost, stolen, or broken (which can easily happen when in the hands of a student) it can be replaced more economically. That’s not to say that the Kindle will automatically be adopted into the classrooms all over the nation, but with a lower price it has the opportunity to do so.
Any Other Benefits?
In addition, while the iPad2 is indeed sleek and light, a Kindle might be a better size suited for a student. It conveniently fits in a book bag and is the ideal size for even primary school aged children since they typically have smaller hands.
Either way, tablets should still only be used as a secondary device in my opinion. What do you think?
Lenore Holditch is an education writer for toponlinecolleges.com. When she’s not researching the latest technology trends in education, she can be found tending to her garden. She encourages your comments.
Photo courtesy of BigStock.