I heard about the Kindle loan program at NCSU through one of my diligent Twitter buddies and got in contact with David DeFoor from the Learning Commons at the University. When I asked David a few questions, he told me to write them down because the involvement in the program crosses several units. David was very kind in collecting the answers for EduKindle. Here is the first part of our exchange.
EduKindle: Have you had any issues with durability on the loaner Kindles?
NCSU: No durability or quality issues at all. The software running the Kindle must be fairly robust as well, as we’ve had very few problems with lockups or crashes. Only 2 or 3 times over 8 months have I had to resort to the ‘paperclip in the hole’ reset remedy, and that among 18 units. We were somewhat surprised by the Kindle’s physical durability. The plastic case and light weight contrast with the metal case and heft of our two Sony Readers. We figured the Sony was more rugged and braced ourselves for cracked Kindle cases. It hasn’t happened. The program is, of course, still nascent, so quality issues may arise in time. We’ll know more in May after we’ve been circulating them for a year.
This is quite impressive to me, but maybe not unexpected, given all of the equipment that David’s group has experience loaning to patrons, which includes everything from laptops to voice recorders to GPS units. And it sounds like these items circulate pretty widely.
EduKindle: Who uses the Kindles (i.e. what are your user demographics)?
NCSU: We’ve been loaning Kindles to a wide cross-section of faculty, staff, grad students, and undergrads, but we can’t currently extract and share the percentages of each group served. Anecdotally I can attest to broad diversity among our patrons.
Here is a good early indicator about the basic durability of the Kindle for use in schools. If they have only used the paper clip solution two or three times in the past eight months, they are doing better than I am, on a per Kindle basis, by a long shot!
Coming next: How do members of the NCSU community select content to be installed on the Kindle?