Rupert Murdoch’s global media conglomerate today announced that they’re launching Amplify, a new brand for their education division, with a suite of new platforms and tech products.
"Nobody disputes that we’re at a point where we really need to think about how we effectively educate kids for the 21st century," Joel Klein, the former superintendent of the New York City Public Schools, and the head of the new division, told Co.Exist. "What I learned as superintendent is that if kids and teachers enthusiastically embrace something, it will change the game. If they don’t, it doesn’t. So much of what we’re about is not just dropping technology into the world of education but tailoring technology to the needs of students and schools so it becomes empowering, informing, and exciting."
Amplify is expanding on the work of Wireless Generation, which has been one of the most talked-about tech companies in education since before it was 90% acquired by News Corp in 2010.
Today Wireless Generation reaches 200,000 teachers and 3 million kids nationwide with a web-to-mobile platform that allows teachers to assess students in real time, offer customized feedback and tailor instruction, all in alignment with state Common Core Standards.
The new product offerings, which will be unveiled in detail in time for the fall semester, combine these analytics with multimedia, game-like content in science, math, and language arts, all tied together with a tablet-based platform—offered in collaboration with AT&T—that allows students to do their homework on the bus, watch videos tied to their science lessons, or play games that help them catch up in math class, all while parents and teachers track a student’s progress.
"This starts right from the top. Our chair/CEO has a deep belief that education is ripe for a digital enhancement," says Klein. Murdoch has written and spoken publicly about the need for a digital revolution in education, writing in the Wall Street Journal: "You don’t get change by plugging in computers to schools designed for the industrial age. You get it by deploying technology that rewrites the rules of the game."
In case the idea of the same company that owns Fox News creating your child’s science curriculum fills you with horror, Klein pointed out that their content collaborators include the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, as well as a team of Hollywood animators and movie and TV writers.
Still, this new brand won’t be able to completely escape the shadow of its parent. Last August, citing the News of the World wiretapping scandal, the New York State Comptroller’s office rejected a $27 million contract Wireless Generation had signed to build a data system for tracking student performance.