There is no such thing as adequate funding when it comes to education, no matter what type of school, geographic location, or age group, but K-12 teachers have reason to celebrate with Amazon’s announcement of a free, fully searchable collaborative resource.
Amazon Inspire lets teachers create and share their classroom materials from literally anywhere around the world. Already boasting a catalog of tens of thousands of free lesson plans, reinforcement ideas, worksheets, and instructables, Inspire lets teachers browse by content area and subject grade in order to find relevant materials. At the same time, teachers can upload their own tried-and-true content to help classroom teachers elsewhere.
Some sources are already envisioning this as Amazon’s tiptoe into the education pool. It’s no secret that STEM, BYOD, and other 21st Century Classroom initiatives are driving spending into more and more technology and digital content. But with Apple, Google, and Microsoft all firmly entrenched in public education–Google’s Chromebook is the most popular school option with 5 million units bought by public schools last year alone, while Apple’s public school sales in 2015 reached over $2 billion–Amazon has taken a content-based approach rather than a hardware approach. This could easily open bigger doors for textbook purchasing, digital textbook rental, and even online courses offered by Amazon and sold directly to school systems.
But Amazon has one more thing to offer that no one is doing for teachers, something that the online retail giant has made a huge industry of by itself: reviews. Inspire will feature a typical Amazon-like review system that lets teachers provide feedback on lessons and materials, something that stands to change everything about how schools discover and utilize content. Until now, materials were purchased through a printed catalog; if teachers were lucky, there was some sort of conference or in-depth demo of a new material, but those were typically attended by a handful of teachers who brought the materials back to their respective schools.
Now, teachers can read the reviews of any interesting content before deciding to download and put it into place, just as they can read a book review or a review of a coffeemaker before deciding to buy. That instant access to feedback from others stands to be the single biggest driving factor to bring educators to Inspire.