Amazon has announced an online education service for primary- and secondary-school teachers that will offer a marketplace of free lesson plans, worksheets, and instruction materials numbering in the tens of thousands.
In late August or early September, the company will debut Amazon Inspire, which will include lesson plans, videos, tests, projects, and games, among other content. Some of the contributors include the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
According to Todd Bishop of GeekWire, the site's navigation is intuitive for users who are used to the general Amazon site, even though it is its own separate service. It also features an easy upload tool (similar to its self-publishing platform) and allows teachers to collaborate on curated collections.
According to Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch, teachers spend about 12 hours a week looking for course materials.
Rohit Agarwal, the general manager of Amazon K-12 Education, said:
Our early partnerships indicate that educators are more than happy to contribute content. Entire districts and states are contributing to Inspire, whether thy are creating or curating materials.
If we could enable every teacher to contribute resources or help discover them, we could collectively raise access for the 3 million-plus teachers out there.
Our ultimate goal is for every teacher in every single subject to benefit from Amazon Inspire. When they walk into a classroom, we want every teacher to benefit from the collective knowledge, the collective insights and the experience of every single one of their peers.
Every teacher should be able to use the platform with zero training. We are taking a big step forward to help the educator community make the digital classroom a reality.
The service was unveiled at the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in Denver, reports Natasha Singer of the New York Times. Other announcements included Microsoft's collaboration with ISTE to introduce technology into schools and three announcements from Google. The Expeditions virtual reality app will now be openly available, and Google's multiple choice app Quizzes and ChromeCast for Education were unveiled.
In 2013, Amazon acquired TenMarks, a site for math instruction. This March, New York City public schools also hooked up with Amazon for a three-year, $30 million contract, to provide ebooks to its students.
Of course, Amazon also markets Kindles and Kindle ebooks to schools as well. Inspire, rather than giving Amazon profit directly, will build up the demand for other products in the long term such as the WhisperCast educational app.
According to ed tech industry analysts, the market for digital educational materials is likely to be more profitable over time than even the school computer and tablet market. Nursery schools through high schools spend more than $8.3 billion on educational software and digital content, and they could spend even more if more schools convert physical textbooks to digital resources.
Some of their competition includes tes.com and teacherspayteachers.com. All of tes.com, and some of the resources on teacherspayteachers.com, can be edited by teachers after downloading.