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Florida School Trades Textbooks For Kindles

by Sean P. Aune | September 20, 2010September 20, 2010 4:00 pm PST

While Amazon’s popular Kindle e-reader may not have passed muster in university settings, that doesn’t seem to be stopping at least one Florida high school from thinking that the device will be just fine for replacing its textbooks.

Clearwater High School in Clearwater, FL has decided the time is right to get rid of its printed textbooks and to get their students working off of Kindle e-readers from Amazon. Earlier this week all 2,100 students were issued one of the latest versions of the Kindle which weighs in at just 10-ounces, a far cry from carrying around an average of four textbooks.

Amazon Kindle“It’s all about literacy, getting kids excited about reading. That’s the most important thing,” Keith Mastorides, principal of Clearwater High School told WTSP. He went on to add, “I hope grades will improve. We will see as it goes. We want to capture the kids, get them excited about education. That’s the most important piece obviously today we’ve done that.”

Of course with high school students you have to worry about potential damage and loss, so insurance ran them $20.  If a Kindle is lost, stolen or damaged in any way they will pay a small deductible for a new one, and they get to do this twice.  However, if it happens a third time, it’s back to the printed version for them.

As for the cost to the school, each unit cost them $177.66, which, since they went for the 3G versions, does represent a small discount.  Books are running them significantly less, and the school has said hardcover textbooks are costing them about ten percent less, and novels are 40 percent less.  The school expects to break even on the project within three years.

Seeing as this is the first high school in the country known to have made this drastic change, it should be an interesting program to watch to see how successful it really is.   Seeing as university students at multiple pilot programs gave the device a failing grade as a textbook replacement, you have to wonder why a high school thinks it will be so successful for them.   True, a high school buys the books for its students as opposed to the way things are done in college, so that may have been somewhat of a contributing factor.

While the day of the e-reader replacement for textbooks is definitely coming, I’m just not so sure that it has arrived yet.  Hopefully Clearwater High School will prove me wrong.

What say you?  Do you think Kindles will be successful in a high school setting?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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