Amazon launches Inspire, a free online education resources (OER) platform

By : |June 28, 2016 0

Amazon has announced Amazon Inspire, an online education resource (OER) platform for teachers to source free learning materials for students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, starting first as a beta in the U.S.

Inspire which looks very much like Amazon’s well-known flagship site lets users sort content by relevance, user ratings, and popularity, along with several criteria pertaining specifically to the materials at hand (level, skill, etc.).

CIOL Amazon launches Inspire, a free online education resources (OER) platform

The content is a mix of “crowdsourced” resources from teachers and other educators — uploaded via an interface that is not unlike Amazon’s self-publishing platform; and primary content posted by third parties like the Folger Shakespeare Library (which is initially adding in 100 plays and related lessons and teaching modules) and the Newseum in Washington, DC.

The third-party contributions are expected to be helpful in filling out the platform if educators are slower to contribute, although Rohit Agarwal, who is the GM of Amazon K-12 Education, says so far that has not been the case. “Our early partnerships indicate that educators are more than happy to contribute content,” he said speaking to TechCrunch. “Entire districts and states are contributing to Inspire, whether they are creating or curating materials.”

Rohit says that the motivation for Inspire came from the fact that educators are looking for more places to source learning materials, and potentially share some of their own. “There are more than 13,000 school districts in the U.S., and when we’ve talked to them, one thing we heard over and over again is that they have created resources or they have gone out and found that others have created them,” he said, but discovering them can be a fragmented process, “through sites and blogs.”

Inspire puts Amazon directly into the league of Google and Apple, which are also working on ways to use their platforms and devices to target the education sector. This is also an area that Amazon has been eyeing for a while now: the company acquired TenMarks, an online math education startup, in 2013; continued to offer TenMarks’ products; and then joined the U.S. government’s Open Education initiative in 2015. The TenMarks team is leading the charge on Inspire, and Agarwal had been the CEO of the startup.

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