Some tweeted comments from educational technology specialist Audrey Watters, and other reports elsewhere, are hinting at the direction that Amazon might be taking with its new education platform. Joanna Cabot analyzed the potential of this earlier when the whole initiative was a little less concrete, and there are still some big question marks against it – not least whether and how much Amazon will be offering Open Educational Resources (OER), or actually expect educationalists to pay for stuff.
Reports elsewhere that Amazon is “said” to be launching an education platform are kind of oddly headlined, given that Amazon Education has a page right out there in the open. As you can see from the above screen grab, the Amazon Education Twitter account is up and running, and Amazon provides a full breakdown of its suite of current education services here, but the actual web page is still firmly stuck at the wait list stage. “The future of education is open,” it states. “Someday soon, educators everywhere will have free and unlimited access to first-class course materials from a revolutionary platform. Get on the wait list to be notified when the platform is available for all schools and classrooms!” The main Amazon Education URL is currently marked as unobtainable, for me at least, but Amazon Education retweeted Silicon Valley hotshot Guy Kawasaki referring people to the wait list site, saying: “The future of education is open.” All the same, as Audrey Watters tweeted, there is currently “no indication on the Amazon Education waitlist page that its new (supposed) OER platform will actually be OER.”
Watters also remarks that “it uses the word ‘open’ twice, so i’m sure it’s all good,” suggesting that at least some of the materials will be free. And obviously that Amazon “free and unlimited access” boast is a big hostage to fortune, although Amazon is not committing itself to a date or saying whether it will be the actual provider of that service. The Amazon Education Twitter account states that “Amazon Education focuses on solutions to support and improve K12 education,” but there is clearly nothing in that statement about free or paid. Plus, one of Watters’s respondents also states that the pedigree of some of the team involved in the initiative suggests that a paid platform may be on the cards.
In any case, the private beta for the project is now open for signup, with further analysis available here. And my next mission, among many others, will be to get feedback from participants to find out what’s actually going on.