The education market has long been focused on learning resources for students — and rightfully so. The goal of education is to provide students with the information and skills they need and to help them become lifelong learners who can adapt to a rapidly changing society.

However, teachers have often been left out. Few resources exist to enhance teacher collaboration both inside and outside of their school districts. And teachers often have to spend much of their non-instructional time hunting for lessons and resources and building ad hoc professional learning networks. Rohit Agarwal, general manager of Amazon K-12 Education, estimates that teachers spend 12 hours per week searching for and curating educational resources. Any time saved here can be used to further their learning and development.

Inspiring Teachers to Work Together

Amazon has stepped in to solve that problem with their new service, Inspire. Teachers can use the familiar Amazon search environment to find lesson plans by subject area, grade level, accessibility features and user reviews. To help ensure a wide variety of lessons at launch, Amazon partnered with school districts, the U.S. Department of Education and the Folger Shakespeare Library. All the lessons will be digital, helping teachers ensure they’re using high-quality digital resources and providing learning activities that make the best use of classroom technology tools. The collegial nature of the repository also enhances teacher collaboration, as teachers can use other teachers’ lessons and comment on them.

Teachers can also upload their own lesson plans and curate subject matter, grade level or unit-based collections that other teachers can use when planning their own curriculum. And the adaptable nature of open educational resources (OER) means the lessons can be tailored as needed to serve specific populations.

The review and ratings system enables teacher collaboration across the country as they point out what works and what doesn’t in the lessons and share reviews and ideas for how to best use the tools. This valuable professional development tool also allows teachers to evaluate and test lessons with students, as well as create and adapt their own lessons to make them more useful across a wide variety of populations and share them with colleagues.

Additionally, teachers can use Amazon Inspire to find like-minded educators and widen their personal learning networks, again furthering their professional development and enhancing their teaching practice.

Teacher development isn’t just important for grades K–12. Find out here why it’s critical in higher-ed environments as well.