Tell us a little about how Techsmith got started.
BECCA: After working as a consultant for several years, Bill Hamilton co-founded TechSmith in 1987. Initially TechSmith provided software development and consulting services to a broad range of regional and national clients. While Bill and his partners worked as consultants, they began actively developing software with the hopes of eventually leaving the consulting business. With hard work and persistence, TechSmith was able to complete the transition from a consulting firm to a software company by 1994.
What was the first software that you developed?
BECCA: TechSmith’s first important software product, Snagit, was first introduced in 1991 and continues to be a cornerstone of the company’s product family today. Since then, TechSmith has developed a full portfolio of products used by businesses, government and educators around the world, including Snagit, Camtasia, TechSmith Relay, Morae, Coach’s Eye, TechSmith Fuse and Screencast.com.
Coach's Eye has built quite the reputation amongst PE teachers, what do you think makes it stand out from other apps that support the teaching of physical education?
MKE: The biggest thing that helps PE teachers is being able to instantly show students what they look like doing various activities. Coach's Eye makes it easy to go from filming an activity to reviewing it in slow-motion. Students also have the ability to compare two videos to see the progress they are making.
Do you think that mobile technology is a natural fit for the PE educator?
MIKE: Mobile technology has drastically changed how PE is taught. PE teachers are able to film and review with individual students or groups in the middle of a gym floor with an iPad. This wasn't possible or even thought of before mobile devices. PE teachers are also able to create and share videos that demonstrate good form with Coach's Eye, which helps prevent injury.
How about other curriculum areas, can Coach's Eye be utilised in other subjects?
MIKE: Virtually every subject and course has areas that can tighten up the learning process by providing video feedback. Teachers can now record and review presentations, experiments, performances and more in class with their mobile devices. Allowing students to see themselves or other real examples improves the learning process and comprehension of the lesson.
Ask3 is a perfect tool for breaking down the walls of the classroom and getting students to support each other. What led to its development?
DAVE: The original inspiration for Ask3 came from a TechSmith employee (Troy Stein) becoming frustrated watching his own children struggle to complete their homework with limited resources. Troy tried his best to help and his kids helped their siblings at times - but he saw that what they really needed was a connection to their teacher and peers - people that are immersed in the same problems. He also recognized that if his kids were struggling, that it had to be even tougher for students that didn’t have the same resources at home or outside of school in general. What we quickly found was that the real power was not in students getting help with homework, but in how the students were shifting from passive consumers of the teacher’s content to active participants (and creators themselves).
How important was the inclusion of the leaderboard and star rating system?
DAVE: We included the leaderboard/rating system because we did have some interest in how those dynamics would impact how the app is used, but at the same time we are more focused on the core functionality of the app and want to get that right before we spend too much time toying with peripheral elements.
Do you feel that Ask3 is better suited to a particular curriculum area?
DAVE: Early on we’ve seen heavy usage in math and sciences - which makes sense because those are very visual subjects and teachers/students have been using chalkboards/whiteboards to work those out for quite some time. We’re experimenting with different ways to get content a system like Ask3, but take some of the emphasis off the whiteboard content and shift the focus to the conversation around the initial content. We think this will open it up to additional curriculum areas (and to more student-driven conversations).
Have you been pleased with its reception so far?
DAVE: We’ve been very pleased with the reception so far - not just with the initial launch of the app, but with the direction it’s helped set for the EDU Labs team. What we’ve learned from Ask3 has gotten us really excited about feedback and formative assessment. We’re now working on some new experiments in that realm.What's next for Techsmith?
Can you tell us about anything you have in the pipeline?
BECCA: Just this week, we released our TechSmith Snagit for Google Chrome beta that enables screen recording. The workflow is still in progress, but we wanted to get this capability out to our users as quickly as possible. Expect improvements in the workflow over the next few weeks!
How can educators keep up to date with your latest releases and updates?
DAVE: Here are a few ways to keep up to with what we’re working:
Follow us @TechSmithEDU
Subscribe to the Education Feed on the TechSmith blog
Subscribe to our quarterly Education Newsletter
Techsmith Team it has been a pleasure speaking with you, thank you for sharing your expertise.
Unfortunately, shortly after this interview, Techsmith decided to discontinue Ask3.
For more information about the decision and details about how long the servers will remain active for, click here: