News Corporation's Amplify unveils education tablet - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

News Corporation's Amplify unveils education tablet

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Public schools already provide bus routes and textbooks for students...why not tablets too?

"We think that if we're going to have the world class education that we're going to need to be competitive in the 21st century, it's going to take the best teachers and the best technology and that's where we think we can help," said Justin Hamilton, with Amplify, the education division of News Corporation.

The company is unveiling the first tablet designed specifically for education, grades K-12.

Hamilton added, "We have a great feature called "Eyes on Teacher," where if the teacher is in the middle of a discussion, she has the ability, with one touch of a button, lock down every device in the classroom and that can help facilitate discussion."

The Amplify tablet is being piloted in school districts across the country and some students in the promotional video say it encourages them to participate.

"I'm a little bit shy sometimes and now, you can post your ideas and people can talk about them on the tablets...It gives myself confidence," said an Amplify pilot school student.

The tablet comes pre-loaded with educational apps and classroom management tools.

An Amplify pilot school teacher said, "I'm able, as a teacher, to really know, like, right away, do my kids get what we're doing right now?"

School districts would be able to offer the Amplify tablet to students for about $300 with a two year subscription, for an additional $99 a year.

Westlake High School implemented a wi-fi initiative two years ago, putting an iPad in the hands of every junior and senior.

"This year we changed that to the LEAP program...and what that means is every student, not only at the high school level, but K-12 will have an iPad in their hands by the end of the school year," said Carl Hooker, the Eanes district's Director of Instructional Technology.

He says it's about time for technology to transform the way people teach and learn.

Hooker said, "I think, on average, education is about five years behind the rest of the consumer market and so, what is changing now with tablets is I feel like we're actually catching up because the price point is getting to an area where we can afford it."

An iPad is considered a consumer device, where the Amplify tablet is strictly for educational use.

"I think having a hard lined, controlled device is not going to be helpful to the kids later in life...The advantage of having a consumer based one is those kids, when they're graduating, they're getting iPads for graduation gifts and using that in college, so all the tools we taught them are applying to that level," Hooker said.

Hamilton said, "What we don't want is another distraction device out there that's going to end up piled in the back of the classroom. We want something that's going to fundamentally change the way teachers teach and students learn."

Those in the education field all agree, integrating technology into the classroom is the best way to prepare today's students for successful futures.

The Amplify tablet is owned by News Corp.

News Corp is also the parent company of FOX 7 News.

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