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Old 01-05-2013, 07:26 AM   #1
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Using eBooks to educate underprivileged kids

I help out occasionally at an NGO that runs schools for rural kids in India. They focus on getting kids english-medium, computer-friendly education.

I read about http://www.worldreader.org/ somewhere on the forums and figured getting ebooks into the hands of these kids would be a cheap way to get them started with reading, english etc. Of course, kindles don't come cheap for an NGO running on donations, but thankfully the schools already have a few computers that the kids work on during their computer lab every week.

So I figured why not setup a free amazon account which comes with a cloud reader, and keep an eye on all the free ebooks (mostly focusing on child friendly categories) that go free every day on the kindle store.

The only problem is, most of these computers are off the net & though cloud reader has an offline feature, you kind of still have to login online first, before the offline mode starts to work. So I'm struggling with that rite now, and what's more, most of these books are DRMed, which makes even transfering to a "netless" system a real pain.

I've taken a few of the children's books available for free on Gutenberg & here too. But I was wondering if there are any other ideas, which makes free eBooks available.

Here's the website just in case http://www.ishavidhya.org/
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:43 AM   #2
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Have you checked the children's section at Munseys.com?
They list 2300 books in that category, for free download in most any ebook format:
http://www.munseys.com/detail/mode/cat/20/Children
You'll likely find kid friendly titles in other categories, too.

At that point, instead of reading with the cloud reader, you can use offline reading apps.

Also, you migt want to get a bit creative:
A lot of the cheapest generic media players come with text viewers. So they can be used for reading ebooks that way. I think you might be able to get 4 or 5 of those for the price of an ebook reader.
Another possibility is to convert ebooks into folders of jpeg images and use slideshow viewers or digital photoframes; this can be done with MS Powerpoint and with Adobe Acrobat as well as some freeware applications (some web trolling might be required; I don't recall the name of any right now, but I remember the tactic was very popular for getting ebooks into the Sony Playstation portable).
Finally, has your NGO talked to Amazon? I'm pretty sure they've donated a fair amount of ebook readers to the african trials. They may be willing to offer up some help.

I'm sure that if you have any kind of equipment lying around with a screen, a way can be found to put ebooks on them; TVs, portable DVD players, cellphones, media players, anything.

Also, be aware that there are several sites that offer up free public domain audiobooks in MP3 format.
Here's one:
http://librivox.org/

There are others.
On a PC you could combine the audio book and the ebook for what amazon calls immersive reading.

Again, pretty much anything with a speaker can be adapted that way. There is also software available, some free, that converts text files to mp3s. The voices range from good to robotic but kids can have fun and learn from even the latter, right?

Hope some of it helps.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:41 PM   #3
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Gee fjtorres what a wealth of information you are!!

Some excellent ideas proposed there!!


(PS: no, I don't need any of the info to use - it's just that you've probably cut down the research factor for the OP heaps!!)
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:32 AM   #4
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Gee fjtorres what a wealth of information you are!!
Aw shucks!
Just the tarball memory at work.
Not eidetic, alas; it's mostly oddball stuff that sticks.
Might as well try to be of some use on those rare ocassions...
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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An initiative for getting the parents to read to them when they're younger (birth thru around the 3rd grade) would probably work better. It isn't so much that the kids don't have access to books anymore, as they just don't see the point in reading.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:03 PM   #6
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Getting through to kids is easier than getting to adults.
Plus, adults often have overriding concerns related to survival. Wanting to do right by your kids doesn't always equal being able to do it.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:14 PM   #7
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Getting through to kids is easier than getting to adults.
Plus, adults often have overriding concerns related to survival. Wanting to do right by your kids doesn't always equal being able to do it.
Ten minutes before bedtime is all it takes.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:31 PM   #8
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An initiative for getting the parents to read to them when they're younger (birth thru around the 3rd grade) would probably work better. It isn't so much that the kids don't have access to books anymore, as they just don't see the point in reading.
Really? Is that so in rural India? How many of the parents cannot read, let alone in English?
While I am huge fan of ebooks I just wonder about the lasting success if the same amount of money and effort were invested in traditional books. Perhaps someone has taken the time to read the reports on the website and can kindly summarize the results if this has been covered?
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:13 PM   #9
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In the world of the politician you work with ideals and principles.
(Lobbyists and campaign contributors, too.)
In the world of the engineer you work with whatever is at hand.
Sometimes, the best library you can give a kid is something like this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/LCD-USB-2-0-...item2c6739355e

US$16 - 4GB of txt files and PD audio books. Not an idealist solution but it just might get something done.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:23 PM   #10
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An initiative for getting the parents to read to them when they're younger (birth thru around the 3rd grade) would probably work better. It isn't so much that the kids don't have access to books anymore, as they just don't see the point in reading.
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Ten minutes before bedtime is all it takes.
I'm not sure if you realised that the OP is talking about disadvantaged kids in rural India?
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:36 PM   #11
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You might want to check out some of the free homeschool programs out there like Ambleside Online and An Old-Fashioned Education. They have books grouped by grade level and subject. Most of the books (especially at the latter site) are free and in the public domain, but some are available for on-line viewing only (OFE likes the Baldwin Project stuff, which are great books, but alas, HTML web pages).

I myself am working on a more secular-based and 100% downloadable program as a project for an education course I am taking (I am a teacher). It is not finished yet, but when it is, it will be just what you are looking for. All the books will be downloadable, and they'll be organized within each grade level in progressive lists that go from easy to hard. I am stuffing the 'curriculum' with as much *good* stuff as I can find. I figure it's better to offer more stuff so that it's adaptable for any age group, ability level or situation. I was specifically thinking, too, not just of homeschoolers but of people in your type of situation. I have a friend who worked on a first nations reserve for a year which was fly-in only, and she has told me stories about teaching with very few resources!

PM me and I can send you the URL. It is not finished yet, but I am making steady progress on it. In the meanwhile, check out Ambleside and OFE.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:53 PM   #12
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You might want to check out some of the free homeschool programs out there like Ambleside Online and An Old-Fashioned Education. They have books grouped by grade level and subject. Most of the books (especially at the latter site) are free and in the public domain, but some are available for on-line viewing only (OFE likes the Baldwin Project stuff, which are great books, but alas, HTML web pages).

I myself am working on a more secular-based and 100% downloadable program as a project for an education course I am taking (I am a teacher). It is not finished yet, but when it is, it will be just what you are looking for. All the books will be downloadable, and they'll be organized within each grade level in progressive lists that go from easy to hard. I am stuffing the 'curriculum' with as much *good* stuff as I can find. I figure it's better to offer more stuff so that it's adaptable for any age group, ability level or situation. I was specifically thinking, too, not just of homeschoolers but of people in your type of situation. I have a friend who worked on a first nations reserve for a year which was fly-in only, and she has told me stories about teaching with very few resources!

PM me and I can send you the URL. It is not finished yet, but I am making steady progress on it. In the meanwhile, check out Ambleside and OFE.

Way better than cursing the darkness.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:19 AM   #13
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Wow, thanks for the overwhelming response!

fjtorres, I'm going through Munseys & yes, I will be setting up some offline apps.

No we haven't talked to amazon. I'm not sure if Amazon has a Corporate Social Responsibility program of any sort. Let's see if something happens on that front.

ficbot, thanks for the offer. PMing you right now.

Also realized that I hadn't tapped into wikibooks. Will keep you guys posted.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:28 AM   #14
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Amazon has a public relations email system and a phone number. The name attached changes but the number stays.
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix....p=irol-inforeq

They also have media relations email acounts for most countries, India included:
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix....-contactkindle

They might bounce you around, but they might also be able to help.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:42 AM   #15
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Amazon has a public relations email system and a phone number. The name attached changes but the number stays.
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix....p=irol-inforeq

They also have media relations email acounts for most countries, India included:
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix....-contactkindle

They might bounce you around, but they might also be able to help.
Thanx. This really helps.
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