Amazon is diving deeper into the education market, with a new set of digital tools designed to help teachers mold their students into better writers by leveraging familiar topics and formats.
Starting today, the new writing tools from Amazon’s TenMarks are available for $4 per student per year. The online curriculum includes a digital writing assistant that helps students write essays and teachers grade them, a short-format writing program that calls upon familiar situations such as social media comments and text messages to inspire creativity, and dashboards for teachers.
“There are three guiding tenets for us,” said Meera Vaidyanathan, director of curriculum products for Amazon Education. “One is that we wanted the service to be really easy for teachers to adopt in their classroom and to incorporate no matter what their current writing instruction practices are. The second is that we wanted it to be really easy for students and relevant to them so they would love it from the first moment. And the last is, while we do want to make it easy engaging, we did not want to compromise on the rigor of learning to be a good writer.”
Amazon acquired TenMarks in 2013 to bolster its education offerings. Until now, TenMarks had been focused on mathematics. Amazon made the call to expand TenMarks after hearing from teachers that they wanted more creative ways to help students develop a love of writing.
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. Last month, the company announced that 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.
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.