|Announcing Amazon Inspire, a Free Service for Digital Educational Resources|
Teachers from around the country invited to shape the future of Amazon Inspire; a new, free service to support learning and teaching in the digital classroom
Amazon Inspire will help teachers discover and share free, quality digital educational resources
States, school districts and publishers join Amazon on a new journey to make free, quality digital resources easily discoverable for teachers
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jun. 27, 2016– (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Today at ISTE 2016, Amazon announced Amazon Inspire, a free service for the search, discovery and distribution of digital educational resources. Developed in support of the company’s commitment to making digital classrooms a reality, Amazon Inspire, with its rich features such as search, discovery and peer reviews, will provide educators—regardless of funding or location—access to upload and share free digital teaching resources. The company is inviting educators to shape the evolution of this innovative service to best serve teachers as part of Amazon’s support of the U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen initiative.
“To truly transform learning in our schools and ensure educational equity for all students—regardless of grade level or zip code—it is crucial that we put high quality, open educational resources at teachers’ fingertips,” said Joseph South, director for the Office of Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “The leadership of states, districts and innovative platform providers is critical for setting a vision and creating an open ecosystem where educators and students can access the tools, content and expertise necessary to thrive in a connected world.”
“Amazon joins educators from around the country in recognizing the power of digital learning to transform the classroom, by creating a personalized, engaging learning environment for all students,” said Rohit Agarwal, General Manager of Amazon K-12 Education. “However, we also know that making that promise a reality is a time consuming proposition and teachers tell us that they spend upwards of 12 hours a week searching for and curating resources for classroom instruction, placing a high degree of trust in resources shared by their peers. With Amazon Inspire, we aim to quickly and easily put the best and most trusted digital resources at teachers’ fingertips, saving them valuable time that can be devoted to what they do best and enjoy most—teaching.”
Amazon Inspire is in the beta stage and is ready for teachers to use and provide feedback to help shape the future of K-12 education.
Amazon Inspire Features
“We’re mentors, facilitators, coaches, listeners, and learners,” said Michael Buist, a teacher at Knox Gifted Academy in Chandler, Arizona. “We’re Sherpas. And if it’s our job to get our students to the top of the mountain, we also need help. We need inspiration and resources. Amazon Inspire is that place to not only share, but learn from each other and enhance our craft.”
With the growing support of states, school districts and contributing publishers, Amazon Inspire aims to provide educators with the largest selection of free and open educational resources to improve instruction and student learning outcomes.
New York’s Mineola Public Schools is among the first school districts in the country to join the Amazon Inspire service. Superintendent Michael Nagler said, “Mineola is proud to contribute content to the Amazon Inspire service. We believe the future of public education in a digital world is the ability to easily find engaging content for students. As more teachers share content on Amazon Inspire, other teachers will find high quality, highly successful classroom materials. That is a victory for every child.”
Another early contributor to Amazon Inspire is Tulare County Office of Education in Visalia, California, which serves more than 100,000 students in 43 school districts. Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak said, “We’re delighted that Amazon has provided a service for our talented curriculum staff to distribute nationwide the quality resources they carefully vetted or created for teachers. We look forward to further growing and sharing open educational resources as the result of the collaborations that emerge on Amazon Inspire.”
In addition to teachers sharing innovative instructional resources on Amazon Inspire, publishers and other content developers are contributing digital educational resources to the service. One contributor is the Newseum in Washington, D.C. “Too many teachers struggle with time and budget constraints to get high quality content for their students,” said Barbara McCormack, Vice President of Education. “By collaborating with Amazon, we can take an open access approach to scale quickly, ensuring teachers and students get the resources they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”
The U.S. Department of Education is also providing resources to Amazon Inspire from College Scorecard, its collection of critical information for making smart choices about which college to attend. Teachers will be able to use those resources to help students get the right information in the clearest way as they make the decision about their future education.
Another example of an Amazon Inspire contributor is the Folger Shakespeare Library. This year, as students celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s life, Amazon Inspire has more than 100 teaching resources from the library available with an additional 2,000 to be added by back to school. These resources link directly to classroom instruction about Shakespeare’s plays and the world that shaped them, including the Folger Editions, which are the number one Shakespeare text used in American classrooms today.
Amazon is also supported in this initiative by early adopter states, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont, early adopter school districts, including Avonworth School District, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cajon Valley Union School District, El Cajon, California; Liberty Public Schools, Missouri; Metro Nashville Public Schools; Tullahoma City Schools, Tennessee; and Virginia Beach City Public Schools; and other contributing publishers, such as EdLeader21 and the Buck Institute for Education, who committed to openly sharing their original and curated digital educational resources for the benefit of K-12 instruction across the country.
Amazon first announced its commitment to the OER movement in October 2015 when the U.S. Department of Education launched its #GoOpen campaign. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is providing a multi-year infrastructure and developer support for the Department of Education’s Learning Registry, an open database where content creators and educators can share information about digital educational resources, ensuring that it remains robust and freely available for all 15,000 U.S. school districts in our country.
Educators across the United States are invited to learn more about or join the Amazon Inspire beta at www.amazoninspire.com.
About Amazon K-12 Education
Amazon Education’s mission is to improve learning outcomes with solutions that help teachers focus on what they do best—teach, engage and motivate students to learn. Products include rigorous content and curriculum resources for differentiated instruction and personalized learning, and a learning resource service that specifically supports the discovery, curation, creation, and distribution of digital education resources for every educator across the country.
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit www.amazon.com/about.
Only 1 in 5 Students Obtain All Learning Materials Legally
A new study on student piracy makes a convincing case for open educational resources in higher education.
Students in higher education today are living in the era of the $400 college textbook, and many have had to find creative, more affordable ways to obtain textbooks. A new study looks at the ways that college and university students across the globe are accessing learning materials.
The study “Student Practices in Copyright Culture: Accessing Learning Resources” was recently published by Laura Czerniewicz, an associate professor at the Centre for Higher Education Development at the University of Cape Town. Her study was part of a larger multi-country research project between Argentina, Brazil, India, Poland, South Africa and the United States. Czerniewicz surveyed 1,001 students at the University of Cape Town pursuing law, media studies and health sciences degrees – covering a diverse array of disciplines that are likely to require students to use textbooks.
Czerniewicz and her colleagues in the partnering countries conducted a 63-question survey that investigated student behavior and attitudes toward piracy, and how students reason their actions. The study revealed that students use a combination of print and digital learning resources in their classes — and only a fifth of them said that all of their class resources were legally acquired.
In many cases, the students were unaware that the textbooks were illegally obtained when they downloaded digital files online. However, many expressed that, when faced with the high price of textbooks, they were less concerned about the consequences of illegal downloading and more worried about graduating. “Is it unethical to want to be educated or is it unethical to charge so much [for textbooks]?” asked one student in the study.
Czerniewicz’s findings also challenged the previously held notion that all students in higher education campuses are “digital natives”: despite the availability of a wide range of open educational resources (OER), many of the students surveyed claimed they had no idea how to obtain free learning materials. Several of these students admitted they were envious of their peers who know where to access free resources.
In a blog post, Czerniewicz explained that the students’ views on matters of principle, plagiarism, piracy and access to academic resources raise “critical issues for new models of publishing, for digital literacies and for open scholarship.” The findings make a case for more widespread use of open educational resources to reduce the cost and risk for students in higher education. Certain OER websites, such as OER Commons, often have a Creative Commons or GNU license that states specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted and shared. When OER are organized and students are provided access, everyone benefits, according to the study.
Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at email@example.com.
We’ve collected an updated roster of resources that offer quality learning content without the high price tag of traditional texts… read more
By Dian Schaffhauser 04/20/16
SAN FRANCISCO—June 14, 2016—The national community college reform network Achieving the Dream (ATD) today announced the largest initiative of its kind to develop degree programs using high quality open educational resources (OER). The initiative—which involves 38 community colleges in 13 states (see attached list of participating colleges)—is designed to help remove financial roadblocks that can derail students’ progress and to spur other changes in teaching and learning and course design that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.