The revolution in educational technology received a big boost this past year as Amazon’s Whispercast efficiently links school Kindles. Students who otherwise don’t like to read benefit from the Kindle, and the number of books they carry is reduced. But management on an enterprise level was cumbersome until Amazon launched Whispercast to schools and businesses in October 2012.
Now multiple Kindle e-readers can be managed from a central location online.
The free service’s central feature is a web-based interface that allows authorized staff — technology coordinators, media and curriculum specialists, and teachers, for example — to buy books using purchase orders or other forms of payment and then wirelessly deploy those books on any number of devices. Devices can be grouped, making it easy to send books by class section or grade level in just minutes.
The Pull of the Push
Andy Shaw, Kindle program coordinator for Florida’s Clearwater High School, manages 3,400 Kindle accounts for student, faculty and staff devices using Whispercast. He says the new service has transformed the way he operates the Kindle program.
Before Whispercast, “if we wanted to buy a book, we had to complete the transaction on each device or send Amazon a spreadsheet” of devices that should receive the book, Shaw explains. Now, he can perform the same task in just a few minutes using the Whispercast interface.
Other customers like the service’s ability to push policies — such as usage restrictions and password information — all at once. Gigi Whiteside, assistive technology specialist for Fulton County (Ga.) Schools, uses the Kindle with her special-needs students, many of whom have attention deficit disorder and need help focusing. Being able to turn off social media or web access on the devices ensures that students don’t get derailed when their attention wanders, she says.
Shaw also loves Whispercast’s ability to manage content on personal devices that have the Kindle app. The feature makes it possible for students and teachers to start a reading project on a school-owned device, then finish it later on their personal tablet or smartphone — without losing their place or any notes they saved in the text.