Friday, 8 March 2013

News Corp to capture education with a tablet

The corporate dream is to dominate a market.  Two corporations are after the K-12 market in the US, with the global market to follow.
Pearson has its plan in place and has been joined by News Corporation in a race to dominate education as a market.  News Corp is owned by Rupert Murdoch and its entry was slowed by the scandal in Britain over its phone hacking.

News Corp's education arm is called Amplify and it has just announced its own Android tablet aimed specifically at education, according to the New York Times (March 6, 2013).
"Amplify will not sell just its curriculum on existing tablets, but will also offer the Amplify Tablet, its own 10-inch Android tablet for K-12 schoolchildren.  In addition to tablets and curriculum, Amplify will also provide schools with infrastructure to store students’ data," the Times reports.  This is the student information system that News Corp bought as part of its move into education.

The Amplify tablet has the usual touch screen.  If it appears the student's attention is focused elsewhere, an "eyes on teacher" prompt pops up.  Tests on the content provided on the tablet use emoticons of smiley and sad faces--the teacher is supposed to use these to tell which students need help.
The curriculum will include video games and students can take the tablet home to play games as well.

The tablet, preloaded, costs $299 along with a two-year subscription for $99.  It depends on wireless access, but is also available with a data plan.
The US market for textbooks is about $3 billion a year, but districts are holding back on some purchases, waiting for texts that are geared to the new standard national curriculum being adopted by most states.  The handful of textbook corporations will have a more uniform market than in the past when each state has had a different curriculum.

News Corp also owns publisher HarperCollins which will supply content for the Amplify tablet and is also a player in the testing market.
Blogger Walt Gardner asks if the News Corp's move is a case of a camel's nose in the education tent.



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