I love my Kindle – but I don’t think we should use Kindles in grade schools…Not just yet, anyways…

I love my Kindle, though I have to admit, I’m a late convert. I was one of those English lit folks who sniffed disapprovingly at the Kindles, insisting that turning paper pages is more “authentic” and “real” – of course it was all nonsense, and I own that. I got a Kindle as a gift, and I was initially hostile to the thing – I even let my partner keep it, until a reviewing job I got this year required that I use my Kindle.

And I was hooked.

It’s amazing how convenient and easy it is – I loaded up about 100 books in the thing and was in heaven. On the train I could read two or three books at a time (a bad habit of mine), but I didn’t have to weigh down my bags with books. It was great.

Until my Kindle stopped working. And now it sucks.

My Kindle stopped working correctly about two days ago – I was reading a book on it, and tried to move on to the next page – except I couldn’t. I pressed the page turning button a few more times and realized the Kindle was frozen. So I tried rebooting and that took some time, but I finally was able to reboot. You get the silhouette of a little kid reading underneath a tree and a bar showing the progress of the reboot. So all was fine until I started opening the book and it froze again. I had to repeat this step and did this about three times. I then decided to look up my issue online and learned that it wasn’t so uncommon for Kindles to freeze up and then restart.

So I went on amazon.com and chatted online with the support staff – the first guy I had was awful, just awful. Instead of going to the trouble of suggesting some troubleshooting, he launched into a sales pitch on what I can buy to replace my Kindle (my warranty has passed so I’m going to have to buy a new one). I told him how disappointing it was that instead of helping me out, his idea of customer service was to try and get me to buy the thing – you see if I trusted him completely,  I wouldn’t know to ask if there were any troubleshooting options out there – I’d immediately agree to buy a new Kindle.

Because I suspect he’s not from this country – although this is all an assumption on my part, I don’t know for a fact that amazon.com’s Kindle chat customer service is outsourced, it may very well not be – but because I suspect he wasn’t from this country, he repeated this mantra of “I’m sorry you’re having trouble with your Kindle” – before finally suggesting a troubleshooting tip – after I berated him for trying to get me to buy some new products without trying to fix the one on hand.

Anyways, unfortunately, the chat closed unexpectedly and I had to go on again – this time I was chatting with someone very helpful, who walked me step-by-step on how to hard reset my Kindle; even though I was happy he tried to help – the reset did nothing. So now I’ll probably have to buy a refurbished Kindle, and thankfully, amazon.com is offering some kinds of discounts.

So why am I regaling you, dear readers, with this silly tale of minor annoyance and nuisance? Because I’ve been reading about how grade schools and high schools are looking at possibly using Kindles in their classes, to lessen the burden of the students dragging heavy books to and from school. I get the impulse, but after this week’s experience, I say no way, not yet!

Now, I’m not an anti-tech fogey who looks suspiciously at computers; I’ve never said in exasperation, “computers are taking over our lives!” I’m not that guy. But imagine if you will a student who is in my predicament. Let’s say she’s got 5 classes – math, science, English, social studies and some kind of foreign language – Spanish (I’ll assume the PE doesn’t have books). So she’s got her text books loaded up on her Kindle and she’s happily taking it to school and curvature of the spine is avoided; but lo and behold, her Kindle’s frozen. And it’s Sunday. And she has to finish Ethan Frome because Miss Larkin, the third period English teacher is giving a quiz. What is a girl to do?” And not only does she have to finish Ethan Frome, but she knows that Wednesday she’s got that math test, and Thursday she’s giving a presentation on voting for her social studies class, and on Tuesday she has to work with a partner on conjugations for her Spanish class.

Except she can’t do any of that because she’s busy contacting customer service to see if anything can be done. After she’s told her warranty’s still good she has to ship the Kindle and wait for a new one. Her best option at this point is to call her friends up and hope that they’re feeling helpful.

So unless the schools implement some kind of service on their campuses where students can drop off their Kindles and wait for them to be serviced, I don’t think switching over will be such a great idea.

I don’t have other e-readers like the Nook – I did some Internet research and saw that there are isolated freezing issues with it, as well.

And let me be clear – Kindles freezing is not an everyday occurence – every person I know who has one has never had the issue I am; they all pledge their love for their Kindles. But I know from doing Internet searches that there are  a few people trying to figure out what’s the what with their Kindles.

And I love my Kindle – when I can use it, it’s a great convenience, but if they are to be adopted by schools then I think we need some sort of backup plan available.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I love my Kindle – but I don’t think we should use Kindles in grade schools…Not just yet, anyways…

  1. I’m glad to read a positive review from a fellow “Kindle skeptic.” I’ve been reluctant to adopt after the whole Amazon-taking-back-books debacle. http://goo.gl/I7Bhg I am so used to *owning* books, I don’t know that I’m ready to pay so much to just have a license to put the book on my device that can be revoked at any time. Maybe if the fee were *significantly* lower than buying a paper book, but occasionally it’s even more!
    I have a Sony Reader, but it’s a little unwieldy adding books. It’s an offline device unless I connect it to my computer – but that means once I have a book on it, it’s actually mine. It gives me the same freedom that you talk about – I’m carrying around a couple hundred books and pdfs and it weighs less than my wallet – where was this thing when I was a grad student!
    I definitely see your point about it being another source of tech-support-hell for kids in school. When I was teaching, I used a couple of online resources – a textbook website with activities and a discussion board – and it was almost impossible to make using those resources a required part of homework, because of technical issues – whether a website would go down, or a kid wouldn’t know how to install the latest version of Flash or whatever. It’s too bad, though – all my students were lugging backpacks that weighted about 50-60 lbs. A Kindle -or similar- sure could help there.

    • thecrowdedbookshelf

      Thanks for your reply, and thanks for reading…
      I’m also concerned about amazonb being able to revoke the license of a book at anytime – it’s a bit disturbing, especially since the price of the e-books are only about two or three bucks cheaper than a trade paperback – but the convenience gets me at each time (I say this as I am at this moment loading up my kindle for a long plane ride).
      Regarding the issue with teaching students – I used to try to introduce more technology and media into my classrooms, but realistically it’s not always a go – especially if one is teaching lower-income students (as I am), and their exposure to technology is not as advanced as one would hope – a good number of my students still are tripped up about email, so I can just imagine the issues that would arise from e-books – especially the kind that rely on some kind of WiFi for service (again, the majority of my kids don’t have access to WiFi and would have to go to a public place to download any new material).
      But yes as you wrote, it’s too bad because outside of these concerns, having students walk around with backpacks that start to resemble camping gear is a problem – though some students have combated that by using wheeled suitcases, but that just makes them vulnerable to teasing from the other kids, so the practice hasn’t caught on yet…
      At this point, I don’t know what the solution is, and to be honest, I’m still erring on the side of caution and sticking to traditional paper-based resources for my students.
      Thanks again!

  2. I don’t have a Kindle, but do have a Nexus tablet on which I can read books. Some younger pupils are facing peer group pressure to get an e-reader, but when I tutor primary school children (whose parents are not native speakers of English), I always use a paper dictionary so that they can see related words and I can help point out the connections.
    Now in London I read we are to have a big literacy event in Trfalgar Square using Nooks to encourage reading. Any thoughts on this?

    • thecrowdedbookshelf

      @Diana Maxwell – I’m all for doing whatever we can to push literacy – not just w/kids but adults, too…The only thing I worry about e-readers is that they’re either not practical or accessible to lots of kids – so making them the go-to in primary or secondary schools is a problem, I think – we can’t take for granted that all young people are digitally-fluent (I know from experience as a teacher that often students of poor/working class backgrounds lack basic computer skills);

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