Amazon Inspire Goes Live (But Without Controversial Share Feature)

Digital Learning

Amazon Inspire Goes Live (But Without Controversial Share Feature)

By Jeffrey R. Young     Jul 18, 2017

Amazon Inspire Goes Live (But Without Controversial Share Feature)

Updated at 3:15 pm PT with a statement from Amazon:

After more than a year of invitation-only private beta, Amazon just opened its free library of open-education resources, called Amazon Inspire.

Well, it’s more accurate to say the site is partially open. Amazon Inspire is still missing its most controversial feature—the ability for any teacher to share lesson plans, worksheets, and other materials with colleagues.

Anyone with an Amazon account can now see the collection and download resources, but the Share feature is turned off, with a “coming soon!” label next to it. Letting any teacher share their teaching materials is a key promise of the service, but it is also one that sparked controversy last year, after several people uploaded materials without the permission of the authors. The copyright violations prompted complaints by teachers, and led Amazon to quickly take down the pirated content and promise to put a better review system in place.

That review system apparently still isn’t ready for prime time. An FAQ about the site’s policies says: “The ability to publish resources on Amazon Inspire will be coming soon. Once available, teachers, administrators (from schools, districts, or states), institutions, or anyone with high-quality, relevant K-12 resources will be able to publish to Amazon Inspire.”

The long silence from Amazon about the Inspire project led some to wonder about how committed the company was to the effort. Some educators who participated in the invitation-only beta wondered how useful the site would be, saying that it is difficult to find high-quality material in the large collection.

When asked how soon the share feature will be added, an Amazon spokesperson said only that it will be "in the coming weeks." Amazon officials declined to reveal the number of partners the company is working with during the beta phase, saying only that "resources on the Amazon Inspire Beta come from educators, publishers, nonprofits, and school districts from around the country."

In response to a question from EdSurge about how Amazon plans to avoid pirate material on the site once the share feature is added, the spokesperson wrote in an e-mail statement: "We take copyright infringement very seriously and have put proactive and reactive measures in place to also address this. We ask that educators only add resources that they’ve authored and have the rights to. If at any time educators see a resource on the Amazon Inspire Beta that they have copyright questions about, they can simply click the 'Report an Issue' link right on that resource's detail page and we will promptly review it and take any appropriate action."

It’s hard to tell how many links and items are in the directory, but it appears that the largest part of the collection relates to mathematics—the site features more than 13,000 listings for that subject. Inspire also shows more than 7,200 results for English Language Arts, 3,600 for Social Studies, 3,300 for Arts, 166 for World Languages, 76 for Health & Physical Education, and 17 for Career & Technical Education.

It appears that partners and invitation-only beta testers posted the materials. Amazon Inspire remains in beta (but now in a form that educators can browse).

Learn more about EdSurge operations, ethics and policies here. Learn more about EdSurge supporters here.

More from EdSurge

Get our email newsletterSign me up
Keep up to date with our email newsletterSign me up