Kindle Unlimited: Not Worth Your Money

Have you heard?  Netflix for books has arrived!  Amazon now offers a new service called Kindle Unlimited.  For a nominal fee of $9.99/month ($119.88) you can “enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audio books on any device.” Sounds excellent, right?  Sorry, no.  It’s not worth your money.  Here’s why:

    • Borrowing books, not buying them…so there is a limit on how many you can have out a time.
    • Not included in Amazon Prime
    • Do not have access to all Kindle books
    • Better/More Popular selection available for FREE through your local public library using the app OverDrive.
    • Not a new, innovative idea

Borrowing Books, Not Buying Them Did you actually read the all the fine print or just watch the sailboat video?  I’ll say it plainly so there are no questions: you are borrowing books, not buying them.  The subscription service is not “get unlimited books for $10/month”, it is “borrow 10 books at time, as frequently as you want for $10/month”.  That’s right, you’re actually restricted to “ten books at a time and there are no due dates.”  While the restriction seems logical…it’s not so awesome if your family shares an Amazon account. A caveat of borrowing Kindle books is this: once you return the book, any annotations and notes you make are gone.  Technically, they are inaccessible because they are saved as a separate file on your Kindle, so if you borrow the book again your notes will be there…as long as you didn’t accidentally delete the “letter” that states your rental expired.

Not Included In Amazon Prime Kindle Unlimited is not added into the Amazon Prime subscription.  It’s an extra cost.  However, if you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle, each month you can read free books through the Kindle First and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (about 500,000 titles).

Do Not Have Access to All Kindle Books Did you read the first paragraph thoroughly or did you just skim right over the 600,000 titles number? Or did the difference simply not register?  Amazon boasts “over 1 million books are available for the Amazon Kindle”.  Let’s do some simple math: 1,000,000-600,000=400,000 Kindle books that Amazon has that are not available for Kindle Unlimited. So what accounts for the large difference? Five major publishing houses opted not to participateSimon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, MacMillan, and Penguin.  So while Scholastic and HoughlinMifflin Harcourt are participating, there is a noticeable lack of New York Times Bestsellers.

Better/More Popular Selection Available through OverDrive and Your Local Library OverDrive is a free app that you can download to your iPad/iPhone/iPod, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle, Nook, Mac, and Windows.  Once downloaded, you log into OverDrive using your library card and pin/password that was given to you at the library.  If you have any trouble with this, consult your local library. Be advised: the availability of books for you may differ from someone else as availability depends on what subscription your public library has with OverDrive. You can filter search results by format: Audio book, Adobe ePub, OverDriveREAD, Adobe PDF EBook, and Kindle.  Yes, you can borrow several Kindle books through OverDrive that are unavailable through Kindle Unlimited.

Not a New Concept There are already a few eBook subscriptions sites available: Scribd, Oyster, and Entitle, just to name a few.

Not Worth Your Money So, why is Amazon charging an extra $9.99/month to borrow books that I can digitally borrow on my iPad through OverDrive and my local public library for free?  It’s a great business endeavor for them, but bad for the consumer.  You’re better off either buying the ebooks, borrowing for free from your local library, or using a different subscription service that actually has some of the top publishing houses.

Guest Post: Audio Technology in the Flipped Classroom

Guest Post Written By: Katherine Verhoeven

Flipping classrooms is a trend that is sweeping through schools all over the world. As our technology advances and becomes easier to use, so teachers are getting the chance to introduce it as a helpful teaching aid. These advancements can especially be seen in classroom audio technology, which can play a large role in successfully flipping a classroom.

Flipping it

A flipped concept introduces students to course content before they even enter the class. This can be done through anything from textbooks to YouTube videos and even audio bites recorded on a classroom microphone.

Children then grapple with the content in class where they have access to a teacher’s help before going home and interacting with the content once again. Experts believe that these types of inclusion strategies help children engage with the content better.

Class audio technology can play a big role in making sure your flipped classroom works in the way you want it to. Teachers wanting to provide their students with quality presentations to take home with them can make use of lesson capture technology. This technology allows you to save and share your lessons. The wireless microphone records the teacher’s voice along with smartboard visuals to create video files to be uploaded later for learners to go over in their own time.

Nowadays, many teachers also visually record classes or lectures for their students to take home with them. For the majority of teachers, straining your voice to be heard on a video recording can be difficult, not to mention useless. It often results in a low quality video that does not help the student.

Again, making sure that you use proper audio technology will get rid of this problem. Advancements in technology now mean that you can simply wear a small wireless microphone to amplify your voice while presenting a class. Sound for Schools says “Recording class content means schools and academies can stop wasting precious lesson time, improve results and really include everyone!”

In the Classroom

Microphones not only help with recordings, but can also help inside the classroom environment. Classroom audio systems let teachers save their voices when giving a presentation and helps children concentrate. The wireless microphone is attached to a classroom sound system that makes sure that the teacher’s voice is heard above any classroom interference such as passing cars or chatting children.

Research has shown that high quality audio environments help children concentrate better, improve participation in class, and encourage good behaviour. This is because students are less distracted by their surroundings and are more focused on what the teacher is saying.

Flipped classrooms can come in many shapes and sizes. Some are interactive, while others can take the form of online lectures or sound clips. With anything you do in embracing technology, remember that a teacher’s voice is a crucial part of learning for any student. If they cannot hear properly, they cannot learn properly. This is why investing in proper audio technology should be one of your first steps on the road to a digitised classroom.

Submitted by Sound for Schools, leaders in classroom audio solutions.