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
- Smart search — With smart search, teachers can explore resources by grade level, standard or even from a particular district. Educators can filter search results using more than 10 criteria to find great resources that best fit their needs.
- Collections — Educators can group resources into collections. They can describe the collection, curate the resources in it, recommend an order for going through the resources and share the collection with other teachers.
- Simple upload — Amazon Inspire offers an easy to use and intuitive upload interface. Educators can drag and drop files they want to share, add basic metadata such as title, description, grade and subject, and publish the content on the service, all in a few minutes.
- Customer reviews — Teachers can rate and review resources on Amazon Inspire, helping their colleagues around the country select the best resources for their needs.
- Accessibility support — Amazon Inspire has built in accessibility features. For example, educators can navigate Amazon Inspire using popular screen readers and users are also able to indicate the accessibility features of resources they upload.
“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.
Educators across the United States are invited to learn more about or join the Amazon Inspire beta at www.amazoninspire.com.
Also published on Medium.