Skaffl, a young, teacher-led education technology startup, has launched a new iPad application designed to help teachers manage workflow in the classrooms. The company was founded by former high school teacher Rita Chesterton and three co-founders to develop mobile applications for K-12 classrooms, helping teachers to simply manage tasks they perform every day, from lesson planning to assessments.
The new application, called Braket, allows teachers to plan lessons, manage document workflow in the classroom and streamline communication with students and parents. It aims to help teachers make better use of technology in the classroom, according to Rip Empson of TechCrunch.
Schools are rapidly adopting tablets in classrooms to make the educational process more engaging and to expand teachers' presentation of curriculum. According to Chesterton, while tablets increase the accessibility of learning content, teachers have found that even simple tasks like distributing and collecting assignments have become more complex.
The Braket app is designed to reduce the amount of work required to upload .pdfs or .docs and distribute written assignments to students, while allowing students to complete assignments and annotate the documents directly before submitting them.
The app allows teachers to assess student work and return grades right from the app without having to open other apps, documents or tools during the process. Many Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide similar functionality, but those systems are expensive for K-12 teachers and are being used mostly by higher education institutes. The Braket app is available free to-12 teachers.
According to Chesterton, chief executive officer (CEO) of Skaffl, despite the growing list of quality tools available to K-12 teachers, they haven't yet seen anything that solves the workflow problem. While Google's cloud-based software has begun to show up in K-12 classrooms around the country, she says, its tools are "great for collaboration" but lose some of their value when it comes to organization or simplifying workflow. Edmodo, too, has also become a popular platform among K-12, especially young students, the Skaffl CEO says, thanks to its being free. But it's predominantly being used by students as a communication tool.
The Braket app focuses on simplifying the teacher workflow and its features are designed with teacher stress in mind. The app also allows teachers to work offline with classwork staying cached on the device so that they can grade assignments anywhere even without an internet connection.
Skaffl is also working on a patent for a feature that enables students to flip back and forth between their notes and the assignments their teachers hand out in class. Chesterton says that, after watching students work in class over the years, she noticed that students have a tough time flipping between their notes, notes that teachers leave on lessons and the assignments they're working on. So, the app comes with a built-in editor, which allows them to take notes in the app and save them for later, while making it easy to switch back and forth.
Chesterton said that her company is planning to implement a freemium model so that teachers can use all the basic features free of cost while adding premium features as they go. The company intends to add a recurring subscription model that will be sold to school districts.