Kindle Fire: The Perfect Educational Device for Your Student

Introduction

Since the introduction of the iPad in 2010, tablets have become more of a mainstay in the consumer electronic market. While the tablet is not a new idea (Microsoft had tablets for years before Apple made its iPad debut after all), it was the iPad that a user friendly and price effective product was introduced to the market. Since then, many companies have sought to release similar or even better products. Now the market is filled with many wonderful and well made devices. Your choices now include operating systems such as Android and Windows, in addition to the iOS of the iPad. But as an experienced elementary and secondary school teacher, I am often asked by parents what device would be best for their student. I have been asked this for students ranging from the ages of 5 to 25. It wasn't until recently that I had a definitive answer this question for MOST people. Please note the most. This does not apply to all people, but I can say with high confidence that the Kindle Fire line is an ideal choice for most students. And here is why...

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1. Price

Let's be totally honest here. Price is ALWAYS a factor. You want to get the biggest bang for you buck, and this particular table happens to hold a lot of bang in its frame. When in comes to the 2014 release of the Kindle Fire you have 6 choices. Of course you can get different storage sizes and such, but for the sake of simplicity your options are:

Kindle Fire 2015 Options:

Name
Price Starts At
Storage Options
 
 
Kindle Fire HD 6"
$69.99
8 or 16 GB
 
 
Kindle Fire HD 7"
$49.99
8 GB
 
 
Kindle Fire HD 7" Kids Edition
$99.99
8 GB
 
 
Kindle Fire HD 8"
$149.99
8 GB
 
 
Kindle Fire HD 10"
$229.99
16 GB
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Best for 12 & Under

If I could suggest any devices, please choose the HD Kids Edition over the others for younger children and here is why. It comes with an amazing an unprecedented 2 year warranty, a built in tough case to protect against potential damage, AND one year FREE of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. The last is very friendly on your budget because this means you don't have to buy most of your apps, tv shows, movies, and books for the tablet. This also prevents accidental purchasing of said things by your kids. With 5,000 hand picked, kid friendly options, you can let your child use this tablet without concerns about what they are watching or buying. And honestly, that is a smart move. Even after the free year is up, the cost is very affordable compared to buying even one app or book per month. See the grid below for pricing.

 
One Child
Up to Six Children
With Amazon Prime
$2.99
$6.99
Without Amazon Prime
$4.99
$9.99
 
 
 
All Kindle tablets come with multiple profile options so that your kids can share without getting into each others space if you need them to. Also, see the parental control section!
May Day gets you tech support quickly and for free.
May Day gets you tech support quickly and for free. | Source

2. Features

May Day:

Kindles have a built in customer service/tech support service called May Day. AND it is 100% free. It is available 24/7, 365 days per year. The best part of all is that you don't need to pick up a phone and wait hours for a customer service rep who barely knows what he or she is talking about or how to describe how to fix the problem. No, May Day gets you tech support in minutes. You can see the reps, but they cannot see you. You can give them permission to draw on the screen so they can show you where to go. You can even let them take over the tablet temporarily to fix the problem or troubleshoot the issue directly. THIS IS CUSTOMER SERVICE! Amazon customer service via phone, email, and chat also available and great. I know this from personal experience. But nothing beats May Day for speed and ease of use.


Built in parental controls for the Kindle Fire HD means you don't have to worry about what the tablet is being used for.
Built in parental controls for the Kindle Fire HD means you don't have to worry about what the tablet is being used for. | Source
Setting limits to games or other feature is just this easy!
Setting limits to games or other feature is just this easy! | Source

Free Built In Parental Controls:
This feature is available in all Kindle models. Whether you choose one or the other, the peace of mind that Kindle FreeTime brings is fantastic for parents. Using this integrated feature, you can create profiles for each of your students, so one tablet can go a long way. The profiles are individualized to each child. This includes allowing you to easily set limits on total amount of time your student spends on the tablet, or just limiting time on certain categories such as games. Let's say you really want your student to read more, but you are worried they will be playing Angry Birds when your back is turned. Well, with FreeTime, you can set limits to game time easily. This ensures that you know what your investment is being used for AND allows for you to reward your child with things they are motivated by while ensuring that they are not wasting their lives away on games.

You don't have to use FreeTime Unlimited in order to use the parental control features, but considering that apps & books cost at least $0.99 each and go up from that point, there is a certain comfort in thinking that you can pay a set monthly cost that is less expensive than getting a value meal at a fast food place & have the added peace of mind that age appropriate & educational content is delivered to your child or children with little to no worry on your part.

Kindle for Education

Wispercast:
Amazon now offers a free service for schools to send information to student tablets called Wispercast. Since more and more schools are approaching the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model, this means your student's teachers have it just a little easier in getting information & assignments to their students is they choose to use the service. Did I mention it was free?

As Heavy as Digital:
In recent years the number of books student have been carrying around has come to the general public's attention because of the damage it can cause to student's backs. Digital weighs a whole lot less. The number of books offered through the Kindle store (one of the oldest and best established) is superb! Add to this that the textbooks are often cheaper than their equivalent printed versions, and this is a reason not only for students of a younger age to have a Kindle Fire, but help college and university students seriously consider the use of this device.

Productivity Anyone?:
The Kindle Fire is not just for entertainment! Writing essays, creating spreadsheets, and power points are no longer the purview of the PC or Mac. Tablets are easily able to be used for homework. Since there a free apps out there like Kingsoft Office or Evernote, this means the ability to accomplish tasks and assignments is limited only by the desire to do it. Of course there is also some fantastic paid productivity software. Polaris Office is my personal favorite, but check it out for yourself. Amazon lets you test drive apps even before you purchase them!

Fire HD 7 Tablet, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black
Fire HD 7 Tablet, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black

Click here to see the Kindle Fire HD (standard edition) line.

 

Media Integration:
Amazon has so much to offer! No, seriously! Between the Kindle Bookstore, the massive library of music, the robust Appstore (which offers 1 free paid app daily!), easy integration with Audible.com (which is Amazon owned) and you have a fantastic offering of media to begin with. Add to this that with an Amazon Prime membership you get unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows, with the option to rent or buy even more content, and you have a recipe for success! NOW add to this that you can access popular services such as Netflix, Hulu, & Crackle, and you have a serious win!

3. Easy to Use

A lot of people I know have exclaimed that the Kindle Fire is easy to use. More than any other tablet I have encountered, including the iPad, the Kindle Fire is designed to novice users and experience alike to easily use it. This is a fantastic success for Amazon, as this is a driving factor for people to get the tablet. In the age of user friendly software, the Kindle Fire wins it big. Add to this that it's software is based off of the most popular mobile operating system in the world (Android) and you are not likely to run out of applications or adaptability anytime in the near future. A challenge that many other tablets have is their ability for a user to pick them up and intuitively use them. This goes for even my favorite tablets. As a techy, I love playing with things, but I hesitate to suggest a Galexy Tab, Nexus, or even iPad to those who are not tech savvy. Contrast this with my unhesitating endorsement of the Kindle Fire HD and hopefully you get a inkling as to how well designed this entire tablet is from hardware to software!

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