Just in time for the school year, Amazon is on track to release their new online education service for teachers, Amazon Inspire. The free digital service provides teachers with educational resources, lesson plans, and worksheets—all of which range in grade level from kindergarten through grade 12.
Amazon Inspire was first announced in October 2015 to complement the #GoOpen campaign launched by the United States Department of Education to encourage use of “openly licensed educational materials.” Since then, Inspire has been in beta testing alongside efforts of increasing awareness of the service in school districts. Digital content is already being curated, and teachers and other educational professionals can access the content for rating and reviewing.
Consumers already familiar with Amazon’s marketplace will be able to navigate the Inspire interface. Each resource, lesson plan, or worksheet will be displayed with a title, the name of the content’s uploader, a rating out of five stars and a brief description of the upload. By clicking on a selected lesson plan or resource, teachers can read reviews, enabling them to better determine the content’s quality, suitability for their classroom and any potential revisions or adaptations reviewers have suggested.
The process of uploading content is straightforward. Users simply drag and drop the files they wish to share using the upload interface and then publish the content in the span of a few minutes. Uploaded content can be categorized according to assigned metadata to permit easy searching and sorting. Examples of such metadata include grade level, subject, and topic (such as the American Civil War, for example).
The ultimate impact of Amazon Inspire has yet to be fully realized, but its potential to improve the range of resources available to teachers is immense. Barbara McCormack of Newseum, one of Inspire’s content contributors, explains how “too many teachers struggle with time and budget constraints to get high quality content for their students.” For teachers in rural and low-income neighborhoods especially, access to wide-ranging free resources and exercises would vastly improve the quality and diversity of their lessons.
It’s too early to tell what regulations school districts will have on teachers’ usage of content from Amazon Inspire. Will teachers be given a green light to exclusively plan lessons and distribute worksheets according to content from Amazon Inspire? Will content obtained via Amazon Inspire replace textbook materials entirely? In the age of coding classes and Bring Your Own Device initiatives in school, it doesn’t seem too far off.
Although still in beta testing, Amazon is looking to add more teachers to the service, and those interested are able to request an access code to get started.
By Tara Nykyforiak