In July 2012, News Corp’s educational unit was rebranded as Amplify. From that time, it is working with AT&T in order to develop an especially designed tablet for K-12 educational market. After a long period of research and testing, an Android-running, 10-inch slate is finally ready for its official debut.
The Amplify tablet provides personalized learning solutions to various states, districts or schools. The solutions include professional development, customer care and device management. While technology has changed the world rapidly, classrooms are not affected that much. Joel Klein, CEO of Amplify has said that they want to revolutionize the reaching and learning processes.
Amplify tablet and its services are being tested in various school districts with the help of AT&T. Those who have purchased Amplify tablets on or before June 30 will have their devices ready to start operation from the beginning of the 2013-14 school session.
However, the situation is not the same when the device was first planned. The most important change is the redesign of the user interface to offer a modern, clean and simple usage experience. Its new design looks similar to Google’s Holo. Color-coded materials, action overflow buttons and sharing menus are widely used in the device.
The basic home page features a grid view of app icons along with displaying student information and a list of notebooks on the right side. While the notebooks enable the students to access different subjects quickly, it also helps the teachers to link materials to different classes.
The main target of Amplify is to build a classroom management system for the 21st century educational system. Though a lot of effort has put on integrating tablets with the K-12 system, all of them ended up offering some reference materials and several pre-selected social features while offering some excellent facilities for teachers including differentiated instruction and instant feedback. An Amplify tablet will be a mobile learning device for the students. It will allow them to organize their on-school academic activities with off-school interests.
The educator’s unit provides easy control to various features like polling student comprehension, taking attendance, distributing supplementary materials, sending assignments, preparing quizzes and blocking disturbing ads etc. It is also possible to create individual lesson plans including materials from local textbooks, pre-saved videos from Khan Academy and other resources from various websites.
Some of the tools and basic reference contents provided with the Amplify tablet include Merriam Webster Dictionary, Encyclopedia Britannica, Google’s Education Apps, Digital Literacy Curriculum, Desmos Graphing Calculator and Common Sense Media etc.
According to the President of the Access Division of the company, Stephen Smyth, the device is not a tablet only. Rather, it is a total learning system designed for any school day. The Amplify team believes that the device is more useful and more affordable than any other education technology products.
For ensuring a proper tablet experience, the teachers and the principal will be provided exclusive training. The company also promises continuous technical support over phone, email, fax, live chat along with instructive directions from the help desk.
However, the biggest drawback of the device is its pricing. If the buyers agree to subscribe to Amplify’s services costing $99 per year, they can buy a WiFi-only device for $299. On the other hand, if they want an LTE-featured one, they will have to pay $349 along with subscribing to the 2-year compulsory service.