Silicon Valley startup Mindflash Technologies has introduced a new iPad application that will be used by teachers to watch students during online class. The new application is designed to use the device’s built-in camera to monitor the student and improve attention, as well as giving feedback to instructors about how students are responding.
The program will pause after three to five seconds if the person turns his or her focus away. It will only restart when the user is again looking directly at the screen, according to Adam Tanner of Forbes.
Mindflash Technologies, the program’s developer, wants to monitor how people using their training programs are reacting. “Are they laughing, confused, deeply engaged?” The company is planning to gather detailed information about students, aggregating data on the group and not just individual level.
“It’s not like Adam found this part funny or Kevin found this part sad, but at an overall level here’s where people were amused or confused or whatever,” said Randhir Vieira, Mindflash’s vice president overseeing product and marketing.
Mindflash, which secured $7.5 million in venture funding in the last three years, offers an online training platform to help companies including McDonald’s, Microsoft, Lufthansa and the Four Seasons hotels with their online training programs. The training platform was introduced in 2010.
“What we are really aspiring to here…is being able to replicate and maybe someday exceed the really rich, sort of informal body language, qualitative feedback that a professional trainer gets from a live training session,” said Donna Wells, the CEO who previously worked for Mint.com.
Mindflash’s iPad application collects information in aggregate and the company hopes such information will help companies improve their training and spice up the duller parts that people find less compelling.
Using software to tweak instruction and the delivery of curriculum is becoming more common. Use of adaptive and assistive technology is on the rise as advances with devices such as iPads are helping schools expand educational opportunities for a broad range of students — including those with disabilities. Sharing her thoughts with educators and parents during a daylong workshop on using iPads to aid students with special physical and mental needs, Therese Willkomm, an expert in adaptive technology, said that iPads are the best tool for students with disabilities, according to Kathleen Ronayne of Concord Monitor.