Amazon Announces Free Digital Education Platform for Teachers

Amazon announced at the International Society for Technology for Educators (ISTE 2016) on Monday the launch of Amazon Inspire, a free education resources platform for K-12 teachers to support digital learning in the classroom.

The service provides educators access to thousands of free education resources from other teachers and educators, such as worksheets and lessons plans, and primary content from third parties like the Newseum and the Folger Shakespeare Library, both in Washington, D.C.

“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,” said Rohit Agarwal, general manager of Amazon K-12 Education.

“However, we also know that making that promise a reality is a time-consuming proposition and teachers tell us that they spend upwards of 12 hours a week searching for and curating resources for classroom instruction, placing a high degree of trust in resources shared by their peers. With Amazon Inspire, we aim to quickly and easily put the best and most trusted digital resources at teachers’ fingertips, saving them valuable time that can be devoted to what they do best and enjoy most—teaching.”

This is also the biggest move yet for Amazon into the growing education technology industry. According to a recent study released this year by the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the overall PreK-12 non-hardware education technology market is estimated to value $8.38 billion. Last year’s valuation was $7.9 billion.

Amazon Inspire functions include:

  • Smart search — Teachers can explore resources by grade level, standard, or even from a particular district. Educators can filter search results using more than 10 criteria to find resources that best fit their needs.
  • Collections — Educators can group resources into collections. They can describe the collection, curate the resources in it, recommend an order for going through the resources, and share the collection with other teachers.
  • Simple upload — Amazon Inspire offers an easy-to-use and intuitive upload interface. Educators can drag and drop files they want to share, add basic metadata such as title, description, grade, and subject, and publish the content on the service, all in a few minutes.
  • Customer reviews — Teachers can rate and review resources on Amazon Inspire, helping their colleagues around the country select the best resources for their needs.
  • Accessibility support — Amazon Inspire has built in accessibility features. For example, educators can navigate Amazon Inspire using popular screen readers and users are also able to indicate the accessibility features of resources they upload.

One of the first school districts in the country to join the Amazon Inspire service was Mineola (N.Y.) Public Schools.

“We believe the future of public education in a digital world is the ability to easily find engaging content for students,” said Michael Nagler, superintendent of Mineola Public Schools. “As more teachers share content on Amazon Inspire, other teachers will find high quality, highly successful classroom materials. That is a victory for every child.”

Amazon Inspire is currently in the beta stage, and is supported in this initiative by states, such as Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont; school districts, including Avonworth School District, Pittsburgh; Cajon Valley Union School District, El Cajon, Calif.; Liberty Public Schools, Missouri; Metro Nashville Public Schools; Tullahoma City Schools, Tennessee; and Virginia Beach City Public Schools; and other contributing publishers, such as EdLeader21 and the Buck Institute for Education.

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