Today, Amazon officially announced that it is launching a new platform with thousands of free lesson plans, activities, and other instructional materials for teachers.
We’ve been hearing about this new website, called Amazon Inspire, for some time. As my colleague Michele Molnar wrote in February for EdWeek Market Brief, the site will have many of the same features as the regular Amazon marketplace—users will be able to add ratings and reviews, choose categories to filter their searches, and get recommendations based on their previous selections.
Teachers will also be able to publish materials they’ve developed and curate their own collections of resources to share with others.
“We’ve made a commitment that we will never charge for this,” Andrew Joseph, the vice president of strategic relations for Amazon Education, told Molnar.
The site is currently in beta stage. Organizations such as the Newseum and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington have been adding instructional resources to the site, along with educators from districts that have been piloting the program.
Open Education Resources on the Rise
Teachers have shown growing interest in open education resources, or instructional materials that can be freely copied, adapted, and shared. EngageNY, created by New York state, is among the most widely used K-12 OER platforms, and more groups are getting into that space.
According to research from Amazon Education, educators report spending 12 hours a week finding and curating instructional materials,
A recent study from the RAND corporation found that nearly all math and language arts teachers using the Common Core State Standards are at least somewhat reliant on materials they’ve developed or selected themselves. It also found that teachers who are looking for materials tend to turn to sites like Google and Pinterest, which aren’t necessarily geared toward their needs.
Some experts worry that teachers who grab individual lessons from the internet won’t provide students with a coherent progression of skills. Amazon Inspire won’t likely serve to reduce that worry—though districts could find ways to pull together a coherent curriculum within the platform and share that with teachers.
It will be interesting to see how the platform is used—and whether having the Amazon brand affects its popularity.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.