Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Michigan the son of teachers and started working with kids when I was in college before my wife and I both got elementary teaching jobs. After 5 years teaching 4th grade and coaching basketball, I started my current dream job as an EdTech Consultant. I now have the privilege of supporting other educators as they integrate new tools and strategies.
What led you into the app development world?
I brought in lots of technology into my classroom...websites, apps….anything that would get my students engaged in learning. The iPads were great but there wasn’t much out there for Writing. The idea for Write About This kept growing in my head and I eventually told it to a friend who worked as a technology entrepreneur. That friend, Bob Armbrister, looked at me and said, “we can build that”. And so we did!
How are Write About This and Tell About This different?
Both apps are based on our belief that kids love to write and tell about things they are interested in or curious about. Photo prompts are a great way to spark that thinking and With Write About This, we offer a platform for them to get those ideas out in writing. After talking with parents and teachers who work with younger children, it became clear that an easy tool was needed for them to simply record their voice as they interact with the prompts. Tell About This has support for early literacy while Write About This has higher level prompts.
How important was it to incorporate the creation aspect within Write About This and Tell About This?
Creation is at the core of what we offer and I believe that creating is a critical part of the learning process. Every time a student picks up one of the apps, I hope they are inspired to create a story, write a poem, or even make their own photo prompt. Write About This and Tell About This are both extremely flexible so that the child, teacher or parent can create their own experience.
Have you been pleased with the reception that the apps have received?
It has been incredible to see so many responses from the classrooms using Write About This and Tell About This! Every time I see a tweet or get an email sharing a story or photo of engaged kids, it motivates me to keep working to provide them the best possible opportunities. We are so grateful for all the feedback and support and I am constantly in conversations with users who I am fortunate enough to call members of my PLN, colleagues and friends.
Can you suggest any ways that the educators can harness the apps beyond their obvious use?
I love to see when students are involved in creating their own photo prompts. Letting kids use images they’ve captured on the iPad’s camera to kickstart the writing or telling process builds ownership from the start. We hear about all sorts of unique ways that teachers have integrated the apps, for example a Phys Ed teacher in China is having his students do a Tell About as a piece of formative assessment. His story and many others are posted on our Learning Hub blog at www.writeaboutapp.com/blog
In general, how important do you feel the use of mobile technology is to the modern educator?
It’s an incredible time to be in education. Not only do schools have access to amazing tools and resources, but many of our students are coming in with experience using them as well. Today’s educators need to embrace a mindset which allows their students to leverage curiosity and use creativity to solve interesting questions. When this shift occurs, the technology can help empower kids to take ownership over learning. If there is not a change in mindset, however, the technology just becomes an expensive add-on.
What other apps besides your own would you recommend to teachers seeking to embed the use of iPads in the classroom?
I love anything that helps students create and demonstrate their learning. There’s fantastic stuff available for movie making, screencasting, making books, etc. Often times the most impactful projects happen with a blend of traditional resources and core creation apps. Using various multimedia and sharing the mashup with an audience allows students to customize the experience and let their voices be heard.
What's next for you? Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
We are always listening to stories and feedback from users in order to take Write About This and Tell About This to the next level. This month, the Write About This 3.0 update includes several cool new features and improvements, including author Profiles. We’d also like to bring the apps to more countries/languages around the world. I think teachers are going to love the direction we’re headed and the vision for where we’ll be in the near future is incredibly exciting.
Brad it was great to hear from you. Thanks for taking time to share your experience with us.
To find out more about Tell About This click here to visit the official site.
You can find Brad on Twitter @dreambition