See that tablet above? That’s the Amplify, built by the News Corporation-owned company of the same name, an educational unit of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
A 10-inch Android tablet, it’s been designed with public school classrooms in mind, aimed at both teachers and pupils, and will be launched officially at a SouthBySouthwest Education event today, the New York Times reports.
It’s being headed up by Joel Klein, News Corp. executive vice president and former chancellor of New York City’s public school system, who has a keen interest in bringing classrooms up to date with tech and gadgetry.
“We understand technology and we understand education,” Klein told the Times. “A lot of people who understand technology don’t understand education.”
Two models will be available, a $299 Wi-Fi model and a 4G Amplify Tablet Plus model costing $349 aimed at kids working from home.
Each Amplify device also comes with a pre-loaded curriculum costing $99 for a two year subscription, mixing traditional teaching methods with tech-assisted learning. There’s also new tablet-orientated discipline techniques built into the tablet, such as an alert that flashes an “eyes on the teacher” warning to distracted kids. It’s not exactly the cane, but maybe kids will pay more attention to the scolds of an inanimate object than their tired teachers?
Only aimed at the US school system at present, some analysts have pointed out potential conflicts of interest in Klein’s involvement.
“You can’t at the same time go out and present yourself as a civic citizen talking about how public schools right now are horrible and then say, ‘Oh, I have a product that is going to make it better,'” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Even if this is a locked bespoke educational UI, with kids often far tech-savvier than their elders, we expect it to be just a matter of hours between kids getting their hands on these for the first time and then figuring out a way of getting Angry Birds on there. Now THERE’s an incentive to get kids to go to school…
By Gerald Lynch | March 6th, 2013