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News Corp's $1 Billion School Overhaul Faces Challenges

News Corp.’s goal to overhaul the way technology is used in the classroom has hit some snags. 

The corporation aimed to introduce tablets for all students with an accompanying curriculum. “Tablet computers and an online curriculum were supposed to help revolutionize schools. That hasn’t happened,” claims Laura Colby of Bloomberg Business News.

Colby says that by the end of June, News Corp.—headed by Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch—will have invested more than $1 billion dollars in a program they call Amplify.

Amplify is a company designed to re-imagine the way teachers teach and students learn according to their main page. Amplify provides their own learning tablet, curriculum and assessment tools to teachers and students. However, despite the $1 billion dollars spent on the program, the company reported a $193 million loss last year and only accounts for about one percent of News Corp.’s $8.6 billion in revenue a year, according to Colby.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” said Krista Sturdivant a Greensboro, North Carolina seventh grader. Ayana Munoz a classmate of Sturdivant, nodded in agreement, according to the Bloomberg feature. “Sometimes it doesn’t connect to the Wi-Fi, and I can’t get my work done,” said Munoz.

To put numbers into perspective Colby added a graph that depicts the sales of print material prevailing over that of the digital material available to students. Print has out sold digital materials by $3.3 billion between 2005-2014 according to the graph. Despite the increase of technology that teachers, students and parents have been seeing, these numbers show that print is still the prevalent resource being used in schools.

“Unfortunately, Greenwood Lakes’ Internet connections weren’t powerful enough to support the curriculum running on the iPads,” reported Colby.

“The school needed to install 10 MacIntosh AirServers in its 30-year-old building, which houses about 1,000 students in grades six through eight, according to teacher Jhamilia Smith, who says students have increased their reading with the curriculum.”

Meeting the FCC bandwidth goals comes at a very hefty price, which could be why most schools are reluctant to do so.

Overall, in a technologically-advanced age where digital tools are becoming more readily available, one company doesn’t seem to be the solution for a a strong education turnaround. The complete revolution of teaching and learning seems to still be at a standstill when it comes to technology in the classroom.

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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