June 14, 2012

PlayTell: Video chat and storytelling that connects loved ones

Target audience: Educators, entrepreneurs, app developers, family members, iPad owners.

JD LasicaAt the first Launch Education and Kids held this week at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley outpost in Mountain View, VC/entrepreneur Jason Calacanis launched a new conference series that showcased 30 inventive startups — some of which will likely change the face of education or learning games for kids. Or both.

The most interesting person I met was Semira Rahemtulla, CEO and co-founder of a cool new tablet app called PlayTell. The San Francisco-based startup on Tuesday launched the private beta of its new app, currently available for the iPad, which lets loved ones share a reading experience over the Internet. Grandmas and grandkids, aunts and nephews, soldiers and young children, you now have a way to experience reading a book together online, even if you’re thousands of miles apart.

PlayTell (tagline: “Play together, even when you’re apart”) lets you read a book with your loved ones while you’re in a video chat. While we grown-ups use GoToWebinar or WebEx for collaborating online over business, until now there wasn’t a way for families to share reading materials at the same time, and then to capture their shared experience through photos or video (a feature coming in a few weeks). The reading catalog is understandably small at this early date, but it will grow over time as libraries and book publishers come on board.

Check out my 5-minute interview with Semira (conducted, by the way, in a very noisy hallway without a tripod). She had some wonderful insights about how children as young as 2 interact with the iPad and how children as young as 3 and 4 come to expect to reach out to their parents or loved ones at any time through our always-on connections.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Congratulations to Jason and his team for another successful Launch conference — it’s become perhaps the best venue to see top-flight emerging startups that have the potential to be game-changers.

August 30, 2011

Top 10 productivity apps for college students

College apps
Photo by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

Make classwork go smoother with tools like Share Your Board, Pulse, Exam Support & Diigo

Target audience: Students, educators, nonprofits, social change organizations, mobile enthusiasts, education organizations.

Guest post by Angela Santiago
Digital Marketing Coordinator, McGraw-Hill Education

With the fall semester about to get underway, here at McGraw-Hill Education we’ve been researching some of the top digital tools for college students, in partnership with online study network GradeGuru.com. Social media has found its way onto college campuses and into the classroom, with apps to help with everything from optimizing student studying and time management to locating interesting activities for students to do once they get to campus.

Here is our Top Ten Student Tools List for fall 2011:

1Share Your Board: Use this app to take a picture of the classroom whiteboard, make it into a readable PDF, add your own notes and send to friends.

2StudyTracker Pro (soon to be released): Since your GPA headlines your resume, it’s important to track your progress. Use StudyTracker Pro to help you manage study hours, exam and assignment grades, and judge how effective your study habits are.

3Foursquare for Universities: Connect with students, alumni, and staff, find new and interesting things to do, and earn rewards for exploring your campus and nearby areas.

4Pulse: Use this news reader app to stay informed and up to date by creating different pages based on your interests.

5Exam Support: Use this to focus, improve concentration, and beat back the rising tides of test anxiety through its “guided audio meditation.” Continue reading