The company has quietly been testing its free program Whispercast with a number of organizations, including schools.
Administrators or teachers set up user accounts for each student. Students can then be organized according to class or grade level. The program also allows teachers to place limits on what students can do with the devices. For instance, teachers can block access to social media and Internet browsing, Amazon said.
Whispercast is part of the e-retailer’s efforts to get Kindles into as many schools as possible. The company sells Kindles at cost in the hopes of money selling e-books and other content such as apps, games, music and video through the devices.
But schools don’t have to have Kindle tablets to make use of Whispercast. Students can use their own devices and opt-in to the program. Whispercast is compatible not just with Kindle e-readers and tablets, but also with any PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android phones or tablets, Blackberries, or Windows Phone 7s that are running the free Kindle reading app.
Clearwater High School in Florida is one of the schools to take part in the Whispercast testing program. Clearwater High has been part of the program for more than two years.
The first set of Kindle devices were funded by capital outlay funds for new school equipment and a second set funded later by the PTA, providing 3,628 Kindle devices to Grade 9 to 12 students. Whispercast is used to control the devices.
“The great thing is (students) don’t realize it. They are learning, reading, comprehending, and analyzing information … all thanks to the online content available through Kindle,” said social sciences teacher Russ Denton.
Teachers are also “tapping into Kindle’s extensive library of free books and documents, like the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers, to supplement coursework and broaden lesson plans,” the Whispercast site says.
Whispercast is also designed for businesses and non-profit organizations, Amazon says. Companies can use the service to centrally distribute documents and other items such as conference agendas or training materials to employees or customers.
Amazon provided a complete list of Whispercast features. They are:
Manage Your Kindles
• Centrally manage your Kindles from whispercast.amazon.com.
• Save valuable time registering your Kindles — no more need to manually configure each Kindle one at a time for your users.
• Provide Internet access by sending your wireless network and proxy settings to your Kindles so they can seamlessly connect to your network and safely browse the web.
• Protect your information by requiring a password on your Kindles if desired.
• Control how your Kindles are used with the ability to block Facebook and Twitter integration, web browsing, and content purchasing.
• Keep your Kindle yours by blocking factory reset and device deregistration on Kindles you give your users.
• Start a “Bring Your Own Device” program and send private network settings to your users’ personal Kindle devices. (Coming soon)
Distribute Kindle Content
• Wirelessly procure and distribute Kindle books to your organization’s Kindles or any PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone with the free Kindle app.
• Meet the unique needs of your users by organizing them into groups for a specific class, grade level, or corporate department to send relevant content and documents.
• Share information by uploading and distributing documents (.pdf, .doc., .docx) to your Kindles or other devices.
• Let your users read on their own devices and send purchased Kindle books and documents to their personal Kindle or other devices.
• Take advantage of apps from the Amazon Appstore for Android that you can buy and send directly to Kindle Fire tablets. (Coming soon)