Amplify Tablet

We learned today that the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation has unveiled a 10-inch Android tablet designed specifically for schoolchildren. Known as the Amplify Tablet (Amplify is also the name of the News Corp’s education division), the $299 slate was presented earlier today at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, Texas. Amplify sales reps are said to be currently knocking on the proverbial doors of public schools nationwide.

Amplify tablet

Joel Klein

According to a press release:

The Amplify Tablet and related services are being piloted this year in school districts across the country in collaboration with AT&T. Tablets purchased by June 30 will be ready for use in classrooms in time for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

For $299, students will receive training and customer care along with the tablet; a two-year subscription to Amplify’s educational content clocks in at an additional $99 per year. The Amplify Tablet Plus, meanwhile, is a second option; it comes with a 4G data plan, and because the Amplify is meant to be taken home at night by students, this is the model that will be pitched to those kids who don’t have Wi-Fi access at home. That model’s price tag is $349. On top of that, users will have to agree to a “two-year mandatory subscription which includes AT&T service for $179 a year,” according to an item from Engadget.

Steep price tags aside, however, the Amplify is said to be the first “open tablet-based learning platform designed specifically for K-12 education.” It comes pre-loaded with apps featuring educational quizes and games, and the News Corp’s Amplify educational division will also be providing schools with the infrastructure necessary to store their students’ data.

Joel Klein, the chief executive of the Amplify division, is largely credited as being the driving force behind the project; he previously worked as chancellor of New York schools. “There’s a huge opportunity if you can get kids excited about educational games,” he says, in a New York Times article about the Amplify. “You can change the learning curve.”