Amazon's Whispercast streamlines Kindle for classroom, office use

October 17, 2012|By Laura J. Nelson
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

A free service that makes content-sharing easier on multiple Kindles could bring  students one step closer to shedding their heavy backpacks.

Called Whispercast, the service creates a single point to purchase and push out Kindle books across a wireless Internet connection. Amazon announced the launch Wednesday.

A teacher or administrator can register students to the classroom’s Kindles, sort them into groups for subject or grade level, then distribute readings accordingly.  The system will give teachers access to millions of Kindle books, including best-sellers and free classics for all ages of students that can be distributed throught the network.

Additional management features include the ability to block the device’s factory reset option – and that’s key, if the equipment is going home in someone’s little hands every night.  

There’s also a nod to the teachers (OK, that’d be most teachers) who worry about students cruising Facebook during class: the Kindle administrator can block devices in the group from accessing the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter integration and even purchasing power.

Some early adopters have already put Kindles in school. Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Fla., has had Kindles in its classrooms for two years. The program began with 2,000 of the devices, and has spread to more than 100 schools in the district.

“Honestly, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to any type of school that I’ve been to,” one student says in a promotional video. The video shows off other  facets of the device: a dictionary that’s linked to the text, downloadable newspapers, bigger text that makes dauntingly thick books seem easier to tackle.  

Replace textbooks with Powerpoints or TPS reports, and the new network will work in the workpalce, too. Whispercast can distribute businses documents to employees or even customers, sorted by department, level or seniority or any other category.

Whispercast will be available on Kindles and free Kindle reading applications for phones, PCs and laptops.

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