The Tabula Project: Technology in Support of Teaching
There's a reason the iPad is the fastest adopted consumer electronics product ever: Tablet computers are intuitive, powerful, portable and low-cost. Today's tablet computers are designed as consumer devices for individuals, but have unlimited potential in the 21st Century Classroom. The Tabula Project's mission is to create tablet-based tools that support the art of teaching in real-life learning situations.
The Tabula Project is about creating a toolkit and platform to make tablets better tools for classrooms. We've been teachers, we've produced educational software and curriculum, and we've worked with teachers using technology in their classes. So we know one thing above all else: If we're going to make good tools for teaching, we need to work closely with practicing teachers in order to do it.
We don't think tablets are the future of education. Teachers are the future of education. But tablets represent the next wave of innovative technology that's just ripe for educational use. The Tabula Project is all about turning amazing consumer devices into powerful tools in teachers' toolkits.
Tabula will be platform and content agnostic, working with as many brands and versions of tablet computers as possible. Of course, compatibility takes coding hours, so we'll start with one or two platforms and build from there. But let's just say we fully recognize the value of high-end and lower-cost hardware when it comes to solutions to help schools thrive.
We also understand that access to hardware, software, and Internet access is an essential part of any "level playing field" in the 21st Century. As such, we are committed to working on digital divide issues - including providing quality broadband access to schools - as part of our work.
Our alpha software design adds individual and group interaction, interaction management, and learning analytics tools to tablets being used in classrooms. It also provides hooks for interacting with third party content, including apps, ebooks and Web-based materials, as well as funneling learning data into existing back office school data systems including leading Learning Management Systems (LMS).
But that's just the alpha. The real magic will start later this year when we get into classrooms to work with teachers and students on the SECOND build of Tabula. Through hands-on use in the field, we can iterate and make it better. Over and over again.
Same goes for the content publishers we've got lined up to work with: There are so many educational apps for tablets available to individual consumers right now, just imagine the impact all of this software could have on schools with the right framework. The Tabula Project isn't about making our own content or compete with anybody else's. We like to think we're going to take each one of those killer learning apps and digital textbooks and give them all a digital hug, wrapping them in some classroom-ready tools so they can reach an even broader audience.
Work With Us!
Developers: If you've got an educational app and want to find out more and work with us, drop a line: [email protected]!
Publishers: If you're working on eBooks for education, whether traditional textbooks gone digital or something else, get in touch: [email protected]!
Schools: If you're using tablets in your classrooms or interested in doing so, get in touch: [email protected]!
We've also got designs for a content publishing system to let educators share great classroom activities with other teachers and schools. Tablets are so well suited to in-school use - they're intuitive, support multiple input styles, have long battery life, and feature integrated cameras and sensors galore - why shouldn't teachers have an easy way to plan activities and lessons around tablets? And if we can give them an easy to use creation system, why not turn that into an exchange where they can share ready-to-go interactive materials with other educators?
Teachers: Interested in a future that involves your lesson plans and classroom activities leveraging tablet computers? Send us an email: [email protected]!
Fund Us, Fund the Future of Schools
The Tabula Project was started by Noah Kravitz, a former teacher, school technology specialist, and digital curriculum producer who left working in schools to report on consumer technology. Noah's aim is to take what he's built in his career as a tech blogger and use it to make the world of education a little bit better. He's got a handful of people - developers, educational researchers, professional development experts, and so on - helping in their spare time and ready to come aboard full-time once he's able to pay them for their time.
We didn't set out to compete with tablet makers, content producers or learning management systems. We didn't set out to replace teachers or convince anyone that one style of teaching or assessing is better than another. What we set out to do was create a platform for harnessing the power of existing school technologies to work with the next wave of educational technology hardware: Tablets.
We also conceived of a platform that, by design, is just the cornerstone of a student and teacher-powered future. Professional development services are in the plan for the Tabula Project, working with teachers and school administrators not only to train them in effective use of tablet computers as teaching tools, but also to solicit their feedback and ideas for future functionality. Our relationship with 3rd party content makers will allow us to create a direct line of communication between educators and developers/publishers, powering the next-generation of effective, pedagogically sound instructional materials.
And, of course, Noah's been working closely with virtually every mobile device maker on the planet over the past half decade, and you never know what a teacher and a high-tech CEO might come up with if only a teacher turned blogger turned startup founder had a way to bring them together...
The Tabula Project needs your support. In turn we will do everything we can to make good on the promise that technology and innovation hold for the 21st Century Classroom.