Check out that last paragraph, and to think Joel Klein was the keynote speaker at the 2010 Vision 2015 conference here in Delaware.
News Corp. Has a Tablet for SchoolsChester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
By AMY CHOZICK
Published: March 6, 2013
For nearly two years, Joel I. Klein helped Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation weather a phone-hacking scandal at the company’s British tabloids with the promise that he would eventually be able to return to the role the company hired him for: to spearhead News Corporation’s new venture into the public school market. That day has finally come.
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Joel Klein, a former New York City schools chancellor, leads a unit of News Corporation that makes this tablet for education.
On Wednesday at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, Tex., Mr. Klein, the former chancellor of New York City schools and the current chief executive of Amplify, News Corporation’s fledgling education division, will take the stage for a surprising announcement. 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.
“When I left I was convinced of two things,” Mr. Klein said of his tenure as chancellor of New York schools. “If we didn’t see a dramatic technological change, we were not going to be able to move this country forward,” and “second of all, that the private sector had to get much, much more involved.”
An early look at the Amplify tablet revealed a sleek touch screen with material floating against a simple background. If a child’s attention wanders, a stern “eyes on teacher” prompt pops up. A quiz uses emoticons of smiley and sad faces so teachers can instantly gauge which students understand the lesson and which need help.
“We wanted to use the language of the Web,” said Stephen Smyth, president of Amplify Access, the division that produces the tablet, which is manufactured by Asus.
At first, the tablet will be targeted at middle-school children. It uses what educators call a “blended learning” model that mixes technology with old-fashioned teaching. Amplify designed the tablet so that schools can provide each student with one to take home each night.
Outside the classroom, children can use it to play games, like one in which Tom Sawyer battles the Brontë sisters.
“There’s a huge opportunity if you can get kids excited about educational games,” Mr. Klein said. “You can change the learning curve.”
In November, Amplify began testing its tablet in hundreds of public schools nationwide, and in December it explained the venture to investors. The introduction on Wednesday began a full-court press by Amplify’s sales force. A preloaded tablet, training and customer care (largely from former teachers) starts at $299, along with a two-year subscription for $99 a year. A higher-end Amplify Tablet Plus, for students who do not have wireless access at home, comes with a 4G data plan and costs $349.
Amplify estimates that many school districts could use grants from the Education Department’s Race to the Top program, which brings technology and personalized learning to schools.