Amazon is today updating Whispercast, its self-service platform that allows schools and other organizations the ability to deliver digital content including books, textbooks and apps to Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets and Kindle apps on other platforms. With the release of Whispercast 3.0, the company is making it easier for schools to both get set up on the Whispercast system, as well as better administer their users and devices.
First launched in late 2012, Whispercast was initially focused on allowing schools and businesses the ability to send books and documents to Kindles before later expanding to support other types of content and devices.
Today, Amazon says that more than 130 of the 250 largest school districts in the U.S. as well as 24 of the 30 largest universities are now using the Whispercast system, including The University of Texas at Austin, Santa Barbara Business College, and Seton Hall University.
In order to support new schools that also want to come on board with Whispercast, Amazon is now launching “Digital Transition Services,” which is a special program aimed at K-12 and higher education organizations. These schools will be able to work directly with an Amazon service representative who will help them with their Whispercast setups and implementations based on best practices. This feature is characterized as a “premium” customer support option, which indicates there will be a fee associated with this option.
In addition, the software has received an updated design that now includes a step-by-step wizard that allows educators to create groups, add and move users, gain access to digital content and distribute it to their organizations. The goal here is to make the system simple enough that anyone can do this – not just IT departments or others with technical training.
Related to this, Amazon is also introducing tiered administration and group management support to Whispercast, which gives Whispercast admins the ability to delegate permissions and control to other individuals and groups, while also setting up hierarchies that mirror their actual school system in any way they choose – like by classes, grades, groups, or anything else. Afterwards, even non-admins, like teachers, can then use Whispercast to add user groups and other students to the system quickly without requiring technical support.
The final piece to the Whispercast 3.0 update is the addition of new purchasing options, which now include the ability to pay for digital content using purchase orders and purchase cards, in addition to credit cards and gift cards, as before.
In summary, the changes reflect Amazon’s intent to better structure its Whispercast platform to meet the needs of larger organizations, built in response to user feedback and requests from current educational customers.
Whispercast today includes access to over 3 million books, textbooks, newspapers and magazines, including 6,000 standards-aligned titles from National Geographic, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Scholastic, Lerner Publishing Group, Cherry Lake Publishing, Sleeping Bear Press and Penguin Random House. The system also provides access to Amazon’s Appstore, which now includes over 400,000 apps.