Amazon will design a “storefront” for public school students and teachers that would give them access to all kinds of books and publications. Bad news students, we have finally found a way around the tried-and-true excuse, “I forgot my book.”
Over a year ago, I wrote that Barnes & Noble should have done something similar. At the time, Barnes & Noble was closing stores and their electronic reader, The Nook, was beating a strong retreat to more effective tablets.
This was a chance for the bookseller to do the right thing and save itself in the process. When the City Council approves this deal with Amazon, the online mega-giant will get roughly $30 million. That could have been Barnes & Noble’s money.
There is big money in government contracts, and making books available to all students is the right thing to do. Amazon will make their content available through this newly designed platform on most devices, so hopefully all students in low-income areas can have access.
Eventually, an idea like this is going to be more beneficial to educators. Even now, professors are using things like Blackboard to build their syllabus and set classroom goals and standards. The future of this technology is that it will make expectations in the classroom clearer. It will also make it easier for teachers to communicate with parents, who can see online what is expected of their children.
What makes this deal with Amazon smart is that this is technology that students are already using for all kinds of things, much of which is unnecessary. Now, they can use this platform to access what they need for school.
We talk so much about failing schools and the best way to fix them. In reality, however, maybe we need to build up alternatives, like making online resources more available.
$14 Million for Queens Libraries is Good Policy
Borough President Melinda Katz secured $14 million for Queens libraries, with $3.8 million going to the Arverne’s library. This is important and good public policy.
The library system is no longer solely about books or magazines on long poles, but a place where many people get their only Internet access. Public libraries are something of an equalizer inside our out-of-balance economy, where some people have immediate access to all kinds of information and others are completely out of the loop.
The story that broke a couple of years ago with some library executives receiving huge salaries and misspending funds caused the value of libraries to take a back seat. The money that Katz secured for library improvements is the kind of visible public policy that makes the borough president position more relevant.