By Teachers, For Teachers
Called “Amazon Inspire,” Amazon plans on staking its own claim in the technology in the classroom market. On June 27, 2016, Amazon announced that it would introduce an online marketplace offering tens of thousands of free technology in the classroom education materials for teachers in late August or early September. Educators have long relied on textbook publishers, colleagial sharing, and their own innovations for producing technology in the classroom materials. Social media, video websites like YouTube, and teacher blogs have helped teachers discuss and share education materials far more than ever before. However, no one-stop shop exists where educators can consistently go to find the materials and resources they need.
Inspire aims to fix that problem.
The education market is no stranger to big-name corporations offering products and services. Microsoft has equipped schools with technology for decades, as has Apple. Apple’s iPad initiatied the one-to-one revolution and helped Apple achieve a $2.2 billion market share. And the banner of tech provision has been picked up by Google, whose Chromebook, packed with Google services, is quickly populating classrooms.
Amazon, it seems, might be a little late to the party. But in a second look, Amazon is actually trying to start a party of its own. Microsoft, Apple, and Google are largely in the business of equipping schools with the tech hardware and software they need to operate. Amazon, on the other hand, offers teachers something different: Lesson plans.
The blue chip companies might largely provide schools with the technology, but Amazon’s platform will bring teachers together for the purpose of sharing ideas and materials. Amazon is changing the game by aiming to create the world’s largest open educational resources platform. Not only has Amazon partnered with the likes of Folger Shakespeare Library and the Department of Education’s College Scoreboard, but it also invites teachers to upload their own videos, worksheets, lesson plans, infographics, and links.
The New York Times reports that Rohit Agarwal, Amazon’s K-12 Education general manager, said the new site was, “Intended to make it easier and faster for teachers to pinpoint timely and relevant free resources for their classrooms.”
When a user shops on Amazon.com, they receive recommendations, read reviews, view the handy five-star ratings, and use the search bar. Inspire will be organized in much the same way, making it easy for teachers to find the resources they need and get back to teaching. If teachers find the ideas and materials they need on Inspire, then they will likely save loads of time.
Amazon wants to make seeking out education resources simple, and its Inspire platform will be modeled after Amazon’s obsessively designed user-friendly shopping website. So many educators are already familiar with Amazon’s name and user functionality, that seeking education resources at the site will be an easy next step … or so Inspire’s designers are hoping.
Because Amazon is providing content, it is also competing with education content providing websites like tes.com and teacherspayteachers.com. Creating a venue where teachers upload their own content is not a new idea, but Amazon offers size, familiarity, and convenience that current marketplaces cannot.
Many teachers may use Amazon already, and Inspire’s beta testing has forged a foundation for users who will join when it opens this fall. Amazon may have difficulty staking an extensive claim, compared to Apple or Google who seem to possess imposing presences on their corner of the education market. Amazon seems to be carving out its own niche, and time will tell how successfully Amazon’s Inspire will be in establishing itself as a staple resource for teachers and students alike.
The Inspire platform faces its fair share of challenges regarding copyright as well. How will the site ensure that users are uploading original content and not someone else’s? An article from EdSurge.com points out that teachers have begun filing complaints for copyright infringement, and one teacher’s perspective is that Inspire strikes her as “A Pirated material market that Amazon collects ad revenue and buyer habits on.” Before teachers feeling comfortable uploading and using content from this open platform, Amazon will need to tackle these hurdles.
There’s no doubt that teachers and districts pay lots and lots of money for content and supplies each school year. As Amazon makes its foray into the education realm, it has its sights on taking a big slice of the pie. The upcoming school years will reveal whether or not Amazon is indeed providing a useful, necessary tool for teachers. If you can’t wait for the launch date at the end of August or early September, then take a sneak peak by requesting access here.
Does Amazon’s Inspire sound like something you would use? Give it a try, and let our TeachHUB.com community know what you think!
Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated and head of his school’s Instructional Development Committee, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website www.jordancatapano.us.