NewsCorp Delves into EdTech with Amplify Tablet

by Matt Klassen on March 7, 2013

It was a little over two years ago when polarizing media mogul Rupert Murdoch promised to leverage the weight of his vast empire to help fix an American public school system that, in his own words, has “lower standards than American Idol.” While many might question what business News Corp has delving into the realm of education technology (EdTech), the company’s motivations become abundantly clear when one hears that education is a $500 billion market in the U.S. alone.

To that end, Murdoch’s media giant released what it hopes will soon become the default form factor behind education technology reform, its flagship Amplify tablet, a state-of-the-art Android platform designed specifically for schools, the “perfect bureaucratic blend” of classroom management tools, assessment, and device monitoring systems that schools need to embrace tablet technology en masse.

But of course the stumbling block that stands in the way of the public education system adopting cutting edge technology is not how well it delivers content or allows teachers to manage a full classroom, it’s the cost, and with each tablet priced at $299 I fear many schools will still be forced to stick with the good ol’ fashioned textbook.

Much like Avaya’s innovative Flare platform, a multi-faceted business communication solution, News Corp’s Amplify is more than simply a tablet; it’s an entire suite of education tools designed specifically to appeal to a public school system that continues to lag woefully in the past. In fact, Amplify refers to an entirely new wing of Murdoch’s media empire, one focused solely on reforming America’??s education system in hopes of tapping into the latent profits the market has to offer.

The new Amplify tablet will run Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and sport an industry standard 10-inch display. It will run on an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core CPU and, as mentioned, comes bundled with software designed specifically for children in grades K – 12.

In regards to the software, the tablet comes preloaded with all the basic learning software teachers need to educate the masses: textbooks, multimedia lessons, Encyclopedia Britannica, and a handy graphing calculator.

While News Corp’s Amplify tablet certainly isn’t the first platform to focus on the education sector, it is the first to create an entire suite of hardware and software focused solely on education, undoubtedly making it more appealing than Apple’s iPad or even other Android options.

Not only is the device appealing as an educational tool, it’s a “managerial dream” as well. With the Amplify platform teachers are able to monitor student behaviour, dole out alerts to distracted students, and selectively enable or disable apps to direct student learning. Further, the platform allows administrators to control content from classroom to classroom or from grade to grade, and gives districts custom standardized testing options to evaluate school performance.

Now that may all sound well and good– and I must say that fundamentally such technology is absolutely vital to education reform– the fact that these devices are cost prohibitive makes them not only unappealing to budget conscious districts, but unattainable for the majority of American children.

At $300 for the most basic Wi-Fi version of the tablet, schools will need to dig deep into their already dried coffers to find the resources to fund even a handful of these new tablets, saying nothing about the cost of outfitting entire school districts. While EdTech is great, I would wager that even News Corp’s Amplify project remains a pipedream for the American public school system.

Did you like this post ? TheTelecomBlog.com publishes daily news, editorial, thoughts, and controversial opinion – you can subscribe by: RSS (click here), or email (click here).

Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

Previous post:

Next post: