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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.