Review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2019

AWS Educate

Amazon delivers highly relevant but uninspired CS courses

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • College & Career Prep
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
7–12
Great for:
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Pros: Incredible depth and breadth of content.

Cons: The materials aren't very engaging, there's little opportunity for collaboration, and setup can be difficult.

Bottom Line: There's lots to offer here, but it's best used with self-paced, independent learners.

For teachers used to other computer science or coding learning platforms, AWS Educate will seem surprisingly difficult to set up. Once everything is up and running, however, it will likely be appealing either for small groups of committed students or as a complement to existing learning materials in the classroom. It could work well as homework or independent self-paced learning, too.

AWS Educate is very focused on the cloud-based services offered by Amazon to businesses around the world. At times this feels a bit like they are promoting their own services, but, because AWS is a leader in the industry, students will definitely be learning relevant material.

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AWS Educate is Amazon's computer science (CS) curriculum and content platform focusing on cloud-related learning. It's a huge umbrella for a wide assortment of topics ranging from cloud computing to artificial intelligence and machine learning. While initially created for adults, it has recently become available for teachers and students in middle and high school. Course content is designed for students to do independently in a self-paced learning environment. Teachers are able to select courses and create a dashboard for assigning work and monitoring student progress.

Students progress through different modules that include text, videos, infographics, and quizzes, and accumulate badges as they go. Three module types (Cloud Explorer, Cloud Inventor, and Cloud Builder) represent different levels of exploration and learning, with Cloud Builder being the most complex. Each quiz is a checkpoint to assess understanding, and in more advanced modules and courses, students also do hands-on activities and submit them for assessment. 

AWS Educate certainly offers a lot of content-area learning opportunities (few resources out there go as far or as deep for younger students). But for most students, this won't be an engaging learning environment. Assignments, videos, and readings follow a traditional "watch/read and take a quiz" method of teaching that won't likely be interesting to most kids. But for students with a strong personal interest and a fair amount of persistence, AWS Educate could be a great way to learn about the basics of cloud computing, the role of data and machine learning, and the different ways that cloud computing (specifically Amazon's own cloud-based services) can be used to build apps that incorporate user data.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

AWS Educate will likely appeal to really committed students. For others, the format will not be very interesting.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

AWS Educate relies on a traditional method of teaching involving watching or reading, then taking a quiz. It's not innovative, but there's a lot to learn.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There's a broad range of content to support learning, but students must be fairly independent.


Common Sense Reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

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