Amazon recently announced its education marketplace called Amazon Inspire. Amazon Inspire is a free service aimed to support learning and teaching in a digital classroom by offering lesson plans and resources for Pre K-12th grades. Amazon conveniently made this announcement at the 2016 ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) in Denver. This isn’t Amazon’s first educational resource venture. Amazon bought TenMarks in 2013, which is an adaptive program that is focused on math.
Amazon Inspire will have resources covering all grades and subjects and will be provided by other educators as well as Amazon’s partner organizations (Newseum and EdLeader21 ). Educators will be able to upload original material onto the site, where they will be rated and reviewed by other educators. Amazon is also working with The U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign which is encouraging states and school districts to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. The U.S. Department of Education is also providing resources to Amazon Inspire from College Scoreboard, which helps students make smart choices about which college may be best for them. Folger Shakespeare Library will also be contributing to Amazon Inspire which hopes to have over 2,00 teacher resources that link directly to classroom instruction about Shakespeare’s plays.
If you would like to try Amazon Inspire, you must sign up to receive an access code. In exchange for an access code, they are asking teachers to upload 5-10 resources and rate and review what you find helpful. It is still in beta and should be ready to go just in time for back to school events. Amazon is also asking states, districts, schools and other educational resources to collaborate with them as well.
Being an educator myself, I was super excited to see a potential place where I could find high quality lessons and resources quickly and for free, but the more I got to thinking, I started to have my doubts. EdTech in this country is big money and I can’t help but think Amazon has some ulterior motives. In my opinion, places like Amazon don’t just give away great resources like this with no strings attached. They are putting themselves in the position to be the one stop shop for all your teaching needs. I am not sure how I would feel if I posted my reading lesson to Inspire just to have Amazon try to sell another teacher the books I recommend for the lesson when they try to download it. This is why I like services like teacherspayteachers.com so much because most of the lessons are created by educators in the field, and those lessons that they worked so hard to create and make engaging and successful deserve to be rewarded and recognized. I have no problem paying a few dollars for a well designed lesson when I know the money will be going to the educator who created it. With all that being said, I do have mixed feelings because I know many educators who don’t have the few dollars for a quality lesson, and an open source like Inspire would help. When it is all said and done, I hope no one losing sight of the main goal of all of this, providing a high quality education to our future.