On Monday, Amazon launched a new online education portal which makes thousands of free educational tools available to teachers. This includes handy worksheets and lesson plans; obviously the web giant’s biggest move towards what has become a lucrative industry (incorporating technology into how teachers teach and how students learn).
This new program is called Amazon Inspire and it is intended to provide teachers of K-12 students a new place to find innovative tools and, more importantly, to share tools and other education materials with other teachers.
“Amazon joins educators from around the country in recognizing the power of digital learning to transform the classroom, by creating a personalized, engaging learning environment for all students,” explains Rohit Agarwal, who is the general manager for the Amazon K-12 Education program.
The tech aspect of the education industry—commonly known as “EdTech”) has grown more and more over the past few years. In 2014, the EdTech industry reached a value of roughly $84. billion; of course, Google and Android were heavy contributors to this growth. Amazon has been a bit slower on the take, but in 2013 Amazon acquired the math-focused educational app TenMarks. They also won a $30 million deal to bring e-books to public schools in New York City.
But this program also appears to have excellent support from the federal government. Apparently, the US Department of Education is also providing some materials from its College Scorecard program. This is designed to help students determine the right university to attend. Furthermore, it seems Amazon had already been collaborating with the DoE on something called #GoOpen, which is a campaign designed to encourage educators to freely share their material among each other.
Now, Amazon’s Inspire service utilizes many of Amazon’s existing functionality which includes, of course, the ability for users to search for a product and then to review products they have used. And teachers will then be empowered to upload their own materials or materials they have found which can then be shared with—therefore benefiting—other schools.
“To truly transform learning in our schools and ensure educational equity for all students—regardless of grade level or zip code—it is crucial that we put high quality, open educational resources at teachers’ fingertips,” explains United States Department of Education Office of Technology Joseph South.
Amazon Inspire is already available in several school districts in Indiana, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland.