Along with the big release last week of Amplify‘s tablet, produced by the education arm of media conglomerate News Corp, came details of the product that will vie for a spot in the growing education tablet market.
Amplify’s tablet runs on the Android platform and comes pre-loaded with a curriculum that’s aligned to Common Core State Standards. It’s 10 inches long, with a hard exterior shell, and is pre-loaded with its own learning software, as well as Google Apps for Education, dictionaries, multimedia lessons, Encyclopedia Britannica, Khan Academy lessons, a graphing calculator. If the company wins rights from publishers, it can also be loaded with electronic textbooks. What’s more, teachers can keep track of students’ progress, as well as have access to classroom management tools that allow them to turn off apps when needed.
But, as Tech Crunch asks, “What in the sam hill is News Corp. doing messing around in education?”
Joel Klein, former New York City schools chancellor, and now an executive vice president at News Corp, says it’s time to shake up education. “It’s not about hardware, it’s not about devices, it’s really about learning,” Klein told NPR. ”And if this does what I believe it will do — which is enhance the teaching and learning processes — then it’s going to be a home run.”
But industry watchers have other ideas. Continue reading
New York City schools and Wireless Generation (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) are forming close alliances.
According to WNYC, the New York Department of Education “plans to award a no-bid contract for building a data system to the same company that built New York City’s ARIS system for tracking student achievement.”
The Brooklyn-based Wireless Generation will receive almost $27 million for its work on the project. In a document given to the state comptroller’s office, education department officials in Albany explained why it wanted to give the project to Wireless Generation without considering other bids. They stated that the cost of using Wireless Generation is reasonable, that it had experience in New York City, and that the state only has four years to build the new data system.
Though former Chancellor Klein is now a vice president for educational technology at News Corp, and was involved in the ARIS project for New York City, Wireless Generation insists he had “nothing to do with” the new state contract.
Company spokesman Zach Silverstein says Wireless told the state it was interested in the contract back in June of 2009, a year and a half before Klein joined News Corp. The state wanted to build a system for tracking children from kindergarten through the end of high school as part of its Race to the Top application. It eventually won the $700 million federal grant.
And yesterday, News Corp. announced its hiring of two public-school officials to helm its education division, including Kristen Kane, the former COO of the New York DOE, who will take over as the COO of the New Corp. unit.
I spoke with Christopher Rush, the co-founder, Chief Product Officer School of One yesterday about plans for the program’s growth possibly outside New York City, and will report on that in the coming days.
From the Wall Street Journal:
People familiar with the matter said News Corp. is interested in making other acquisitions and investments in technologies designed to change the way children learn, though it expects future deals to be significantly smaller and focused on bolstering Wireless Generation. The company, which also owns The Wall Street Journal, will likely consider technologies aimed at improving how teachers teach and how educational materials are distributed, among others, one of these people said.