At some point, my “smart phone” is going to morph into a just plain “smart”—its phone component having been demoted from the title for being its least interesting and least reliable feature (Hello A&TT…)
It’s a camera! It’s a book! It’s a game! It’s a clock! It’s a map! It’s a translator! It’s just wonderful!
One idea. Endless incarnations.
Which is why it is so puzzling when an idea comes along with loads of potential, but a narrow, blinders-on focus. Case in point: Educreations.
One of ten companies chosen by Silicon Valley edu-tech accelerator, Imagine K12, for its first “class,” Educreations has developed a whiteboard app for iPad that can also be accessed through web browsers. Designed to bring out teachers’ “inner Sal Khan,” it is super simple to create, save and share lessons—either to a select group or to the global classroom. You can upload photos and graphics, write using a rainbow of colors and record track as you go. Hours of fun.
Yes, there are plenty of beta squiffs, but the “bones” are impressive. The developers’ vision is broad…
Roberts says he and co-founder, Chris Streeter, are aiming to create something like a YouTube for learning. “The overall quality of the lessons will continually improve as more teachers contribute and the data helps us identify which lessons are the most effective. Similar to the way Netflix and Amazon recommend movies and products you will like, our goal is to be able to recommend the lessons that will be most helpful to each student, whether those lessons were created by their teacher at school or by a teacher on the other side of the world.”
“We expect many teachers will develop massive followings, because they explain a complex topic in a fantastic way that just makes sense to students. We’ll know we’ve succeeded if a bunch of teachers on Educreations become internet sensations – because they’re that good, and the world can finally hear what they have to say.”
…though not nearly as broad as it might be.
The emphasis is almost entirely on the educational market. And it is quite wonderful to learn about Fibonacci and The Skeletal System (Did you know babies have over 300 bones and adults just over 200? Or that some people pronouce “skeletal” as skel-ee-tal, with the emphasis on the middle syllable?)
Yet almost everyone could find a use for this, from humanitarian aid workers in the field to one Mr. Glorvigan, who made a Christmas card. This a powerful piece of communications software. And though not exactly video-editing, it makes up in ease (or at least it will once all the squiffs are fixed) for what it lacks in special effects grace.
Education is just one application.
To see what the Educreations app could—and couldn’t—do, I created a “lesson.” Mine is more of a narrated slide show with a few whiteboard tricks. (It may take a little time to upload. If you don’t hear sound, refresh the blog page…)
According to several edu-bloggers, the Educreations’ app beats the competition by a mile.
My votes for “please fix asap!”— beyond all the ones listed on the site’s feedback forum:
- Make it possible and re-record a section of audio. Currently, if you make an error, you have to erase the whole thing, images and all, and start again from scratch.
- Improve search. A random “showcase” of lessons appears on the browser-based website, but it is impossible to search beyond them, or to search at all via the iPad app.
Business models are keen on iteration: try, test, try again. Rarely, though, is the question raised: What else can the product /service do? How else can the product/ service be used?
So to inspire such thinking, here are two videos that rarely show up in business seminars:
First, Robin Williams from the Actors’ Studio Interview (especially the part about the pink scarf, starting at 3:23)
Next, an animation of Tom Leher’s classic, New Math. The goal? An app good enough to launch “The Educreations Mashup Challenge”
Teachers: Rev up your iPads…
— J.A. Ginsburg / @TrackerNews