WE HEAR YOU LOUD AND CLEAR: Amplify CEO Joel Klein officially lifted the curtains on his 1,000-strong team's much-hyped 10-inch, Android tablet (manufactured by ASUS). Biggest perk: simplifying the device management process for teachers by allowing them to curate content and apps and giving them full control over the student experience. Teachers will have a live dashboard that keeps track of what programs students are on, along with the ability to direct students to a third-party app, ask assessment questions, or--when needed--lock them out. They can also get a gauge of student engagement through an emoticon-based feedback system.
"We are building something that wouldn't make sense in other markets but would be optimized in the school market," said Klein.
The company began testing its tablet in public schools around the country beginning last Fall 2012. The device is set to be fully operational by the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
The Wi-Fi model will start at $299 per device when purchased with a two-year subscription at $99 per year. An upgraded model with a 4G data plan starts at $349 with a 2-year subscription at $179 per year. The device comes pre-loaded content from the likes of Khan Academy, CK-12, Google Apps, EverFi, and Desmos' nifty HTML5 graphing calculator. The price also includes professional development for teachers, technical support, and hardware warranty.
Of course, any news involving News Corporation, the parent company of Amplify, rarely comes without controversy. Reuters reports that Amplify's sister company, News America Inc., generously chipped in $250K this week to back candidates running for the Los Angeles school board--with Klein putting in $25K directly from his pockets. As we reported last week, LAUSD just approved a $50M to spend on tech--and tablets.