Tell us a little about your role in the company.
Alex: Class Act is a joint venture between my company ‘Acorn Studios’ and my father's 'Big Learning Company‘. I am a developer by trade and my dad is also Principal of a large UK High School, so the partnership is ideal for this kind of app. The synergy of my expertise as a developer and his extensive expertise in teaching and learning work really well.
Was Class Act the first app you developed?
Alex: No. Class Act is the first app I have developed for the education market. I have developed a series of interactive UK city guides, the first to be published on the App Store being My Leeds’ and ‘My Newcastle’, as well as building a number of apps under contract to a range of companies.
What inspired the app?
Ken: Our teachers are challenged on a daily basis, lesson by lesson, to personalise their planning to the needs of individuals. To make this a realistic prospect they need a tool to help them capture the hundreds of observations and assessments they are making throughout each day. The idea behind Class Act was to provide a focussed, easy to use tool to capture progress on the go, help direct questioning efficiently to inform assessment for learning, and target intervention and support. Furthermore it would automatically provide a record to inform the teacher's planning for the next lesson or episode. In the design we kept in mind the demands on a teacher moving swiftly from one class to another across the day. Class Act would secure, at the tap of a screen, the multitude of professional judgements on pupil progress made throughout each lesson, with the reassurance these would be available as and when required.
What do you think sets Class Act apart from other assessment apps on the market?
Ken: We recognised a lack of bespoke apps to support the teacher role. Apps which provided focussed and uncomplicated tools which were ready to go and could make a real difference to the teacher's daily work. We detected a tendency for those 'teacher' apps currently available to try to emulate the more complex, multi-task management software operating on most whole school platforms. Whilst providing a number of appropriate features in one place, such school-level software all too often forces the teacher to engage with all functions rather than freeing them to use the specific tool they might require.
Why did you decide to include the ability to assess using Bloom's Taxonomy?
Ken: We wish to support teachers in creating independent and 'fearless' 21st Century Learners. The inclusion of the taxonomy in Class Act invites both teachers (and through Class Act Lite - students) to engage in discussion and recognition of the cognitive skills within Bloom's hierarchy. Skills which are so crucial to their future achievement and successes.
Are there any updates or new features planned for the app?
Alex: Yes, there are some great new updates coming out very soon including a new student control panel for editing students and adding notes, the ability to adjust past topic colours as students improve and support to email a PDF of your seating plan and lesson objectives to cover teachers. However the new feature i think people will like most is the ability to save classes online and send them to other teachers or download them onto other devices. We are also adding support for iOS 7 in time for its release.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Alex: We have a number projects on the go at the moment. As one the of the key elements of Class Act is its simplicity we don't want to fall into the trap of building functionality for other tasks within the same app. Instead we are working hard to develop a suite of similarly focussed, fit for purpose apps, which can sit independently in the teacher's toolbox but have a recognisable style.
We are also currently working on a project we like to call ‘Class Cloud’ which will be incorporated into Class Act and our future apps as soon as fully tested. We can’t say too much about it just yet but it will link all the 'independent' apps we create together, enabling sharing of data and ease of use for our users. In the future we are looking to roll it out to other developers to use as there are some great apps out there that we would like to share functionality with. We’re really excited about it and are looking forward to unveiling it to the world!
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
If you want to find out more about Class Act, click here.