As ayone who has ever used Blackboard can attest, there is much to be desired in such a platform. It is a pain to navigate, nearly impossible to keep up with, and is just an overall bad experience. Using mobile? Forget about checking blackboard. Thankfully, alternatives are beginning to sprout up. One such alternative, Learner Bites, has yet to hit the market, but looks like a major upgrade over Blackboard. We had the chance to ask James Dowen, one of the founders of Learner Bites, a little bit about the project.
What is Learner Bites?
We’re working on an education platform that will be sold to schools. Our mission is to completely digitize and mobilize classrooms, and send schools paperless. We’re building Learner Bites, a platform that allows schools to do so much more. Teachers and students can message each other, they can store files privately, teachers can set homework, students can hand homework in online and receive their results online, parents can sign in to see reports and progress of their children, students and teachers can create notes, students can create revision and lesson timetables, schools can add public files, teachers and students can create both public and private events which are then shown on calendars, blogs can be created, mini-websites can be created, and schools can even power and manage their main website, right from their Learner Bites dashboard. We have many more features in development too, and we cannot wait to share them with the world.
Who is Learner Bites for?
The target audience for our software is every school around the world. We want every teacher, student and parent to be using Learner Bites, whether it’s on their desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone.
What makes your product different from Blackboard and other such platforms?
Most other educational platforms in existence require schools to host it themselves. For the school, this means they have to purchase the correct servers, set them up, and pay someone to maintain them – resulting in very large costs in the long term.
We’ll be mobile. When Learner Bites launches, it will be accessible from any device, at anywhere, at any time.
We believe social interaction and building relationships between students and teachers is important. That’s why our platform will have a large social aspect to it, allowing teachers and students to share updated with each other, comment on this updates, and so much more.
Security is key. Everything on the web is vulnerable, even the biggest of websites and platforms. We pride ourselves on how we’ll be protecting our future users. We encrypt all sensitive data we store, such as names. Also, the platform will only be accessible over SSL, also protected from the recently discovered Heartbleed bug.
Learner Bites is cost efficient. We understand that not all schools have money to throw away, which is why we won’t be overcharging for the user of our platform. Learner Bites will also help schools save money, as they won’t have to purchase as much paper, etc.
Learner Bites can power school website. We’re working on an API which schools can use to add events, blogs, and more to their school website, straight from Learner Bites. We’re also working on a feature where schools can create entire websites and manage them, straight from their Learner Bites dashboard. We believe that there are many platforms out there that do not have this functionality.
See more at http://learnerbites.com/
Why did you get involved in the Education industry?
We got involved in the ed-tech space because we felt that technology within the education industry was slacking, and something simply needed to be done. We also believed that there was a lack of connection between the home and school. The idea of information currently being transacted via paper in this modern age is a bit daunting. It’s time for education to move forward, and to improve. We believe a vast part of that improvement will be related to the internet and mobile devices.
Tell us about your team and their backgrounds
I’m James Dowen, the founder of Learner Bites. I’m currently leading the development of the platform. I’m not a teacher, and I’ve never had the experience of teaching. I’ve also never had the experience of running a school – although I can imagine that’s quite an interesting challenge. I am, however, a student. I study computer science and statistics. Being a student allows me to know exactly what students want from technology in education. Many other platforms in existence have being developed by adults. Do adults really know what the students want?
You may be thinking though, how do I know what the teachers want from a platform? Well, my mom helps me with that one. She works in a primary school and she’s always coming up with great ideas for me to integrate into Learner Bites, all of which have been approved by the senior management team at her school. I’ve also carried out vasts amount of research prior to starting the development of Learner Bites.
I’m also a web designer and web developer (http://jamesdowen.com), which has given me the opportunity of working for many different companies, from small to large. After developing everything from small business sites, to ecommerce stores, to fully functional social networks, this has given me the skills to develop something as powerful as Learner Bites.
What do your current goals look like?
Our next step is to continue to develop Learner Bites ahead of our planned September 2014 launch. We’re currently on schedule and we hope to keep up our fast pace of development work.
However, we would love to find funding. We’re aware that Learner Bites will cost a lot in terms of hosting and server power, so we’re always on the lookout for funding to help kickstart which innovative startup.