Introducing Amazon Inspire: new free educational resource
School books used to be strongly associated with McGraw-Hill.
ALM used to do a lot of foreign language learning materials.
Amazon has been involved in schools for some time, but what they announced in this
has the potential to have the e-tailer deeply integrated into primary school learning in the USA for decades.
I’m sure some people will have a knee-jerk reaction to that, but this is not Amazon writing textbooks for profit or to shape public opinion in its favor. It is essentially a curriculum sharing program…and it is free.
I’m a trainer (for the most part) in my “day job”, and there are similarities in a minor way with what I do and what happens in school districts across the country.
We have a number of smaller geographical area groups within my area, Northern California.
We logically cover a lot of the same things. One of the tools we use (but only one) is job aids, where we created a document which someone can use to follow step by step how to complete a process.
There is no point in, say, twenty of these being created independently from scratch to cover the same process. Probably 90% of the job aid content would be the same.
We have worked (and are still working) on having an efficient curriculum sharing system. If one of us creates something, it is made available to the others of us in different areas…who can modify it for local needs if they need to do that.
That problem of parallel development is vastly multiplied when you look at American school districts.
We aren’t particularly talking about textbooks here: those will continue to be produced by professional publishers and authors.
Let’s say the topic is, oh, Gutenberg. While there will be a lot of different approaches to the importance of what Gutenberg did, the basic narrative and issues are going to be the same. It could greatly enhance the teaching of that topic if a teacher in San Francisco had access to what a teacher in Atlanta had written, and vice versa.
However, you want that access to be efficient. You want a robust infrastructure, searchability, and you want it to be friendly to students with disabilities.
You also want it to be affordable, ideally free.
That’s the mission of
It’s in the early stages, and they are encouraging the involvement of educators in its evolution.
I think this is going to be big, although there are some difficulties in implementation. Textbooks are often charged with prejudice, both by what they include and what they exclude. There will be a much bigger scrutiny of Amazon, even if they are just really the platform here. Some people aren’t comfortable with Coca-Cola providing services for school lunches, even if all they provide is water.
This is going to be interesting to watch…
Bonus deal: my sibling’s book One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is ninety-nine cents right now…I don’t know why or for how long. 🙂
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
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