App-enhanced paperless learning

Nieuws | de redactie
6 januari 2012 | How can learning evolve in tandem with advancements in technology? While Powerpoint and the occasional Youtube video found their way into most classrooms, more radical approaches to enhance learning are emerging.

During the Harvard seminar at Roosevelt Academy clickerswere mentioned as a suitable tool to create greater interactionbetween teachers and students. These small devices give studentsthe chance to vote on questions or problems put forward by theteacher. Google and Pearson, meanwhile, are buildingtheir own social media augmented online learning environmentschallenging the current market leader Blackboard.

Mobile and interactive

Now, a new innovation aims at redefining the very objectthat was the carrier of knowledge for centuries: books. BenchPrep, a Chicago-based startup, licensesacademic textbooks from major publisher like McGraw Hill andPrinceton Review in order to turn them into interactive learningcourses based on smartphone and tablet devices.

The software offered by BenchPrep lets student read content,take quizzes and have their learning process tracked and analyzedby a diagnostic tool that points out weaknesses in a given subject.Furthermore, students can interact with peers through live chatsasking questions on specific issues.

In this way, simple textbooks are turned into completeinteractive learning courses accessible anytime and anywhere. Thisapproach resembles an idea that is increasingly spreading amongacademics: that in times of capacity shortages and rising demand foreducation digital education might be a solution to maintain highquality learning.

Competition for publishers?

The 7-month old BenchPrep startup, meanwhile, is faring quitewell with its new product. Having an existing user base of 200.000members, it plans to massively expand its reach backed up by newpartners like McGraw Hill and Princeton Review.

These might need to watch for increased competition. BenchPrep’sCEO, Ashish Rangnekar, however disagrees with that statement sayingthat “we’re not competing for the same dollar. Licensing toBenchPrep creates an incremental revenue channel that does notcannibalize their book products.”

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