Amazon Launches Digital Educational Resource Platform, Amazon Inspire
This week, Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Inspire, a free tool for educators to quickly access valuable digital resources for the classroom.
We interviewed Rohit Agarwal, general manager of Amazon K-12 Education, and Pranav Midha, Inspire’s head of product. Agarwal said that according to their research, teachers were spending 10 to 15 hours every week searching for digital resources. The goal of Inspire is to compile trusted resources in one easily searchable place.
The layout of Inspire is similar to that of Amazon’s e-commerce site. It features a search bar, user reviews, and ratings. It is designed to look and operate much like Amazon’s shoppers are already used to. They can even sort through and filter content by relevance and popularity, along with other criteria.
Content available through Inspire comes from a wide range of resources including, but not limited to, teachers and school districts. Folger Shakespeare Library is initially adding in 100 plays, related lessons, and teaching modules, and the Newseum of Washington, D.C. is contributing as well.
An additional feature of the educational site is the option of creating a collection, a curated set of resources for a certain topic. “We have a strong view that the collection is worth more than the individual resources that are part of it,” said Agarwal.
According to the New York Times, just one day after Inspire was launched, Amazon removed three items from the site following copyright complaints from educators. Two of the three items were included in a screenshot that had been sent to journalists and published by news outlets. These two items were created by authors on teacherspayteachers.com, which is a rival instructional resource site of Inspire.
Agarwal addressed the copyright allegations on Tuesday at the ISTE conference in an interview with the New York Times. “Our team is doubling down and investigating what the root cause is. We will do what is appropriate to respond to the results of the investigation.”
The copyright issues that arose with Inspire signal potential issues with effective procedure for monitoring content. Amazon must be able to find a way to distinguish between open educational resources and copyrighted works before they are uploaded. Many teachers are wary of their ability to do this. The Times shared a link to comments from educators on Facebook unhappy with Inspire.
Despite the investigation, Amazon intends to keep Inspire rolling and grow the service. Just a week into its launch, Inspire came at a crucial time for educators preparing for back-to-school.
“We are guided by the feedback from our customers and we believe this is a big step to making the vision of the digital classroom more of a reality for our partners in education,” said Agarwal. As a free service for educators around the world to search, discover, and distribute educational resources, Forbes predicts they will have a strong foothold in the digital education market.
“Our ultimate goal is to have every teacher when they walk into their classroom be supported by the collective knowledge, collective wisdom, collective experience, and the insights of every one of their peers,” said Agarwal.
To learn more about how Inspire came about and what they are doing, listen to our interview with Agarwal and Midha:
Hannah is a Boston-based writer who hails from Ohio. She has recently become interested in photography and loves taking portraits. You can normally find her curating her Instagram feed and eating all things carbs.