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Big Hype, Hard Fall for News Corp.'s $1 Billion Ed-Tech Venture

Ohanian Comment: Yes, Amplify's demise qualifies as "Good News," but there's just no way I can put anything about Amplify in the 'feel good' section.

Ed Week gets really pissy if I post whole articles, but I will say this one is informative, and worth reading.

In the 'good news' category, Amplify, the recent Wunderkind, now up for sale, is referred to as "financial albatross."

Murdoch's Amplify thought that digital would dominate ed reform and, sadly, in that, they're probably right. Where Amplify made their big mistake was in over-reaching. Under Joel Klein's leadership, attracted by K-12 education's instructional materials and technology markets of $17 billion, they counted on the immediately embrace of their curriculum covering math, science, and English/language arts for grades K-12, which included buying their unknown delivery device instead of Apple.

From Ed Week:

Klein boasted that Amplify would be able to quickly outmaneuver such established education publishers as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson because it would not be tethered to "legacy" print products already in circulation.

Maybe there's a moral here: Hubris will get you every time.

There is a very significant line in this article:

Selling to schools is difficult because the process is so decentralized and bureaucratic.

Think of all the English departments figuring out their reading lists. This is why the Common Core tests are so important. Convince every district that there's one curriculum available to deliver the needed knowledge and...you can take it to the bank. What amazes me is that News Corp only gave Amplify five years.

I admit to being grateful that schools are way too messy to jump on bandwagons this fast.

The call for a unified curriculum is also a call for a unified curriculum provider, just what a totalitarian state needs.

Editorial revelation: Wireless Generation co-founder Larry Berger, who moved into a top post with Amplify, was a board member of Education Week's nonprofit parent company until last month.

By Benjamin Herold
The global media giant News Corp. sought to push its way into the K-12 marketplace five years ago by betting big on technology.

Now, despite a $1 billion investment and a steady stream of brash promises to radically disrupt the way public schools do business, the company's education division, known as Amplify, is deeply in the red and on the auction block.

Veteran observers of the fickle K-12 ed-tech market say they aren't surprised.

— Benjamin Herold
Education Week





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