Amazon Inspire Aims to Help Teachers and Underfunded School Districts

Teachers and students in poorly funded areas now have a new, free resource to ensure kids are getting a solid education. Amazon just announced plans to offer digital resources to teachers through a program called Amazon Inspire. This move challenges existing major players in the education market, including Microsoft, Google and Apple.

The Inspire site, currently in beta, will allow K through 12 educators unlimited access to a library of shared lesson plans, worksheets and other educator-created classroom materials. Teachers need only to request access and upload their own resources and materials to have full access to a network of other educators’ materials, which they can rate, review and share.

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Teachers can search the site based on their role — i.e. librarian, teacher, administrator — and by subject and grade level, pinpointing results that suit their needs.

Though Amazon first released information about its upcoming platform in February, as reported by Edweek, the company made another official announcement during the 2016 ISTE Conference in Denver, where thousands of school administrators are gathering this week.

Entering into the world of online educational resources is certainly a big step up for Amazon into a digital market that is increasingly more profitable for companies and more accessible to school districts that might be lacking in funds to purchase expensive computers and hardware.

In recent years, Apple, Microsoft and Google have dominated the school computer sales market, with the Google in the lead since the advent of the inexpensive Chromebook. Initiatives like Amazon Inspire intend to go a step further, connecting teachers through a network where they can share successful educational materials and lesson plans, regardless of their school district’s ability to purchase new textbooks or hardware.

This isn’t the first initiative of its kind — while other tech industry giants are certainly successful, Amazon’s main competitors are other tech startups that aim to disseminate online resources to teachers as well. What gives Amazon a leg-up over other successful startups is an intuitive interface that should look familiar to any teachers who are already Amazon users.

“Every teacher should be able to use the platform with zero training,” Rohit Agarwal, general manager of Amazon K-12 Education, recently told the New York Times. “We are taking a big step forward to help the educator community make the digital classroom a reality.”

Amazon Inspire is set to make its e-learning debut in late August or early September. Do you think this initiative will help struggling school systems? Sound off in the comments. 

Lauren L'Amie is an SEO Content Strategist at Wirecutter, and was previously an editor for Tom's Guide, writing mainly about phones and social media. She has also written for Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine, and The Daily Dot, focusing on a range topics from health, sex, and lifestyle to news and politics. 

  • Laura Hurley
    Teachers who have collected and “curated” others’ work, do NOT have the rights to share that work.

    If I have curated a collection of novels and nonfiction works, does that grant me the right to digitally upload that library for readers all around the country to access for free?

    Yet, Amazon’s new venture – Inspire, does just that. The heart of its platform is the uploading and sharing of “high-quality” lesson plans that teachers and districts have created – and also “curated.” Not created – simply collected!

    Where will these "high quality lesson plans" come from? As any teacher-author or curriculum-writer knows, creating professional, high-quality lessons takes hours, days, weeks or months of work. High-quality art, fonts and design, research and expertise, plus time to carefully format, proof, reproof, est-drive, revise and then carefully describe for others how and why to use - are all components of high quality lesson plans.

    The creators of Amazon Inspire are either naïve to believe teachers will routinely have this time to create truly professional products for others’ use or they are proposing the outright theft and dissemination of other teachers’ copyrighted work.

    On its first day of launch, just one of the many pirated lessons on Amazon Inspire was a 300-page resource. No high-quality 300-page resource is created in 10 minutes! Rather, a resource of that length can take weeks to create, working full-time, plus the purchase of professional fonts, illustrations, ink to test-print first, second and third drafts, laminator and laminating, if included - and more. When sharing that work long-distance with strangers, detailed and clear instructions for use, rationale, answer keys, cover pages for organization and more must be carefully crafted.

    No other profession touts “share all your work for free!” Amazon does not give its products away for free. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and McGraw-Hill do not give their products away for free. Yes, school districts need help. But organized theft is not the answer.