News Corp’s Ed Division to Enter Tech Market with Amplify

Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and current executive vice president at News Corp, has announced ambitious expansion plans for “Amplify,” the company’s education division. Klein, who also heads Amplify, sees the division becoming aggressive in the sector by releasing products meant to appeal to the current crop of students and their insatiable hunger for everything tech-related.

Over the course of a presentation made during the UBS Global Media and Communication Conference, Klein outlined plans to release an open-source tablet that will run the company’s optimized educational software. The included applications will not only be Common Core Standards-compliant, but will also include an extensive analytics component that will aid teachers, schools and districts in feeding increasingly popular and extremely data hungry academic assessment systems.

Klein’s point is that U.S. K-12 education is a “broken model,” with shockingly low graduation rates, “we spend a lot on education and do not see the results.” To change all this, Klein said, “the private sector’ has to be involved and that “technology will forever change how we teach students.” Klein said, “kids use media and technology of all kinds but they’re told they have to turn them all off when they get to school.”

According to estimates unveiled during the presentation, Klein views the education market as lucrative, with over $700 billion up for grabs. Seventeen billion of that is available in the K-12 market in which Amplify expects to compete most aggressively.

To take a chunk of that market, the division is prepared to invest heavily in development. So far, the costs of the product design is pushing $180 million – a large number considering that the unit is reporting about $100 million in yearly revenues. Amplify has already contracted to provide its software and hardware services to over 200 school districts around the country.

Amplify is focused on changing American education with a program focused on Amplify Insight, teaching software tied to a prototype Amplify tablet device designed to collect and mine “big data,” in other words, use data analysis to drive teaching. He also pointed to Amplify Learning, customizable “gamefied” educational content—the digital textbook in a new form—tied to national core curriculum standards and designed to appeal to young people’s love of digital technology and multimedia.

Klein hopes that products sold by Amplify will not just transform the way kids are taught, but will completely overthrow the current 9-3 school day paradigm. When academic materials are available around the clock online, and instructors are easily reachable via forums, social media and email, learning doesn’t need to stop when kids leave the class or even the school building.

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