Repost to correct badge error (original post Oct. 2, 2015)
The Venture: Zaption is a web-based app that allows educators, trainers, instructional designers and content publishers to add images, text, questions and discussions to existing online videos (like YouTube, Vimeo). The purpose is to make videos more interactive, engaging and differentiated. Edited “learning tours” can be shared with a link or directly embedded into an LMS, blog or website. Educators can also select videos from Zaption’s video gallery. Using the analytics tools, data can be collected on students’ understanding of key concepts and their interaction with these videos.
Zaption provides a free and upgraded pro version ($89/yr). Since its start up in 2012, Zaption has grown to approximately 200 000 users, 60 000 of which are registered educators. It has raised approximately $2.5 million in funding (New Schools Venture Fund, Small Business Innovation Research grant etc.) and is currently partnering with Discovery Education to create interactive science lessons for high school students. Zaption hopes to be able to expand its 5 employee company and to develop an Android app to complement its current web-based and IOS apps. With blended learning on the rise and digital data collection in high demand, I think that Zaption has a lot of potential. I am particularly interested in how it could benefit my district’s distance ed. program.
About Charlie Stigler: Stigler co-founded Zaption with his father, Jim Stigler in 2012. After reading Jim’s biography, it becomes apparent that Charlie has been surrounded by entrepreneurship his entire life. Jim is an associate dean at UCLA, co-founder of Startup UCLA, educational author, and previous owner of LessonLab that was purchased by Pearson in 2003. As a high school student, Charlie developed the study app, SelfControl. As a freshman in the computer science program at Columbia University, Charlie became the recipient of a Thiel’s Fellowship. Recipients of this grant receive $100 000 and additional support and resources to allow them to conduct research, create a start up venture etc. Upon receiving this fellowship, Charlie left Columbia to pursue the development of Zaption. Charlie’s post-secondary education is limited; however, I do not feel that an entrepreneur’s success will always be defined by the number of degrees he holds. Having said that, a review of the other four team members at Zaption shows that Charlie is well supported by experienced individuals. The CEO of the company, Chris Fitzgerald Walsh, was a co-founder of Brightstorm and creator of the Infinite Thinking Machine. He also previously led product development and strategic initiatives for New Tech Network.
Reflection: First, I think that some of Charlie’s success can be attributed to the fact that he has had an influential mentor in his life, his father. Now my dad can barely get into his email account, but if I look beyond my home and family to my school district office, I find a whole tech team waiting to educate and assist me! In fact, this weekend I’m at Microsoft Camp 21. Yes, I had to make some sacrifices (long flight, weekend away from family etc.) but I think that this type of exposure is what is needed to keep me current and engaged. Secondly, as I read through the biographies of these paraded founders, I’m starting to realize that many of them do not necessarily re-invent the wheel. I always thought that in order to be an entrepreneur, I would have to start something from scratch. Now I’m seeing that many of the newer start ups are building off of, incorporating and blending pre-existing technologies and practices. Using videos and accompanying worksheets is by no means a new practice but Zaption now blends video, formative assessment tasks, data collection, and resource sharing all into one pretty package. I catch myself thinking…now why didn’t I think of that? Entrepreneurs seem to have a knack for creatively problem-solving and improving on things others just seem to accept as the norm.