Amazon Inspire, a site that lets teachers and schools upload and access unlimited educational and classroom resources, is now available to all educators following a year of tinkering.
The site launched last June, with a goal of creating an extensive database of lesson plans, videos, tests, projects, games and other content that teachers and schools across the U.S. could share with each other free of charge. But the site ran into issues just the next day, when Amazon removed several items over copyright concerns, including lesson plans created by a rival educational site.
An Amazon spokeswoman told GeekWire that the program has been in a closed beta test since then, open to a select group of institutions, to improve the site. Starting this week it is open to everyone in the education community.
Edscoop first reported that Amazon Inspire went live this week.
Right now, educators can download a variety of resources including lesson plans, activities and professional materials. In a few weeks, Amazon will roll out features letting educators upload and share their own work.
“Our ultimate goal is for every teacher in every single subject to benefit from Amazon Inspire,” Rohit Agarwal, who was general manager for Amazon’s K-12 Education when Inspire was announced but later left the company, told GeekWire last year. “When they walk into a classroom, we want every teacher to benefit from the collective knowledge, the collective insights and the experience of every single one of their peers.”
Inspire represents the latest in a series of moves by Amazon in the education technology market. The company acquired the TenMarks online math startup in 2014, and separately markets e-books and tablets for teachers and school districts. The company described Inspire at its initial launch as an outgrowth of its involvement in the U.S. Department of Education’s GoOpen initiative. Amazon also provides technical resources and support for the department’s Learning Registry open database.
A recent study found that Google is still on top when it comes to education tech, but it faces plenty of competition from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and others. Amazon has some catching up to do, but it is making a big push in that area. More than 5,000 educational customers use Amazon Web Services for cloud storage, the company said, and AWS also provides students and educators with access to free content, training, collaboration portals, and access to AWS services through its grant-based AWS Educate program.
Amazon also has resources for parents buying school supplies, a device-agnostic content distribution system, a publishing platform and a version of its Prime fast shipping program designed for students.
In 2015, the company debuted Amazon Catalyst, a program that provides grants in the range of $10,000 to $100,000 to researchers, students and faculty working to solve big problems, from climate change to disaster notification. The program started at the University of Washington as a collaboration with CoMotion innovation hub, and other universities will be added over time.