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Amazon's New Kindles and Higher Ed: 5 Questions
September 28, 2011 - 10:17pm

1. Will Devices and Content Merge? At $199 for the Kindle Fire, and $79 for the basic Kindle, prices are getting low enough that some higher ed programs will think about bundling the devices with tuition / fee paid for content. Many professional and executive education programs provide the course and learning content as part of the educational service. At $199 for the Kindle Fire, a program could pre-load all course video (including lecture capture recordings), and other rich media directly on the device. At $79, it might make sense to deliver course readings (from monographs to articles) on a pre-loaded Kindle. The $199 Kindle is a premium, up-market differentiator. The $79 Kindle might save money over traditional coursepacks.

2. Will CoursePack Providers Play? Coursepack providers, such as XanEDU, have concentrated development efforts on the iPad platform. With the $199 Kindle Fire and $79 basic Kindle, will they move toward offering course readings on these platforms? Will Amazon get into the digital coursepack business in a big way?

3. The Academic Library Question: Is an academic library allowed to buy a $79 Kindle, load it up with digital books, and then loan that Kindle out? Why not? At $79 and the price advantage of the Kindle books, are we getting to a point where it makes economic sense to be loaning out the device+content together? Barbara Fister, why is this a terrible idea?

4. The Underwhelming Media Content Question: I like my Kindle because I can get almost any book I want for about the price of a softcover. The Kindle book selection is excellent. The Amazon video selection is similar to the Hulu or the Netflix streaming video collection, basically terrible. The big advantage of an Amazon tablet, besides the cheaper price as compared to the iPad, is the integration to Amazon digital content (in which part of the library for Amazon Prime members is free). But what good is a great Amazon video watching platform if the video is of such poor quality? What will have to happen for streaming video libraries to improve? Does Amazon need to buy a studio? Start producing original content?

5. The Learning Management System Question: At $199, I'm sure we are going to start seeing lots of Kindle Fires on campus. Are Blackboard, D2L, Instructure, Moodle, Sakai, Pearson, etc. developing mobile specific apps that will work on the Kindle Fire? How will the browser versions work through the Kindle Silk browser? Does Amazon have anyone who is really thinking about where their products / services / platforms and higher ed converge?

Are you planning to buy a new Kindle?

What questions (or answers) to you have?


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