In the latest episode of edugogo I talked to Georg Winkler, the creator of a software called Booksorber. Being a physics student Georg had to carry a lot of heavy textbooks. This was incredibly inconvenient as he also traveled a lot during his studies. Hence, he needed an easy yet affordable way to digitize his textbooks.
Now, we have all been at the point where we tried to scan in pages of a book with a flatbed scanner. It takes a lot of time and the results are usually pretty awful looking. And getting a professional book scanner makes no sense as well as they cost a ton of money. So Georg came up with a solution that takes advantage of tech most of us already have at hand or which is at least easy to get.
With Booksorber all you need is a digital camera, a tripod, a remote trigger, a black background and a good light source. Then you can scan / photograph an entire book in a very short time. Georg and his alpha testers found that 80 pages per minute are no problem at all, and with some practice you can easily get to 100 pages per minute. Hence you can scan a 500 page textbook in about 5 to 10 minutes easily. Afterwards all you need to do is to import the pictures to the Booksorber software. The smart algorithm will then automatically detect pages, separate them, fix distortion, bad lighting and more.
In the end, you receive a high quality pdf which also will work with OCR for search in the book, bookmarking etc.
If you ever have had to deal with a problem like this I think you know what to do. Go over to Indiegogo and get your copy of Booksorber at a discounted price today. All contributions on Indiegogo will go directly into the finishing touches of Booksorber. The first version will run on Windows but OSX and Linux will follow shortly. For more information you can also visit booksorber.com
Excelegrade is a project Nikea Davis, Lauren Miller and Jason Brein who I interviewed for this episode of edugogo. The team wants to provide teachers and principals with a tool that tracks student performance on a question by question basis. Excelegrade also compares the overall performance of the class or school with others in the US, enabling teachers and principals to check where their school stands in the national ranking.
Excelegrade enables teachers create tests in under two minutes. This way they can immediately verify if students understood the topic at that very moment.
The software is cloud based and device agnostic which means it works on iOS devices, Android, and any modern browser. Besides that Excelegrade also supports classic print out tests. This is crucial for schools that take part in the BYOD movement and also helps to bridge the digital divide in classrooms where some students might not have access to technology like smart phones, tablets or laptops.
Excelegrade also features a pre-populated database of common core aligned test questions which teachers can use to create their tests. This is a great help in the transition period to the national common core standard teachers are facing from this school year on.
The software is already working and being tested by teachers. You can watch a product demo here. For more information, visit excelegrade.com and fill out the survey to get access to a free trial of Excelegrade. And of course check out the Indiegogo campaign where you can get heavily discounted subscriptions for individual teachers up to entire grades.
One of the current hot topics in education is of course the rising problem of student debt. This is true for the US but also for almost any other country in the Western world. Ravi Singh wants to solve this problem with Schoolarship, starting with his home state of Ontario which has more than $15 billion in outstanding student debt alone.
Schoolarship is a platform which is going to give out grants to students. The initial plan is to offer 200 grants at $5000 each in early 2014. These grants are sponsored by companies. In return and in order to win the grants students are going to interact with content and ads designed by the Schoolarship team. There will be tasks in which students who interact with the content can earn points, by for example answering questions about the brand etc.
The grants will then be given to the students who earned the most points during the contest. The idea is that every student can apply for these grants, no matter what he / she is studying whereas most grants today are always tied to a specific subject matter that you need to study.
In order to get the platform off the ground Ravi and his team are raising $20.000 until Saturday, October 6th. The first contest will then start in September 2013 with the first grants being handed out in early 2014.
For more information visit schoolarship.ca and of course the project page on Indiegogo where you can contribute to help lower student debt.
What would your life look like if you were trying to avoid products and services that come from a faceless brand and instead use open source alternatives? Would you still be able to live a somewhat normal life and is this possible at all? Well, Sam Muirhead will find out for all of us.
Sam is a film maker from New Zealand and he is currently based in Berlin. He is planning to live an open source lifestyle for one entire year and he is going to document his journey for the rest of us. His documentary is called Year of Open Source Now, Berlin is somewhat a perfect place for such an experiment as there are not many places that foster such a creative scene that can support someone who is trying to be as open source as possible.
As Sam explains in our interview, Berlin is a hotbed for the German open source community from 3D printing to free barter system based education to a political party that got 10% of the votes in the last elections.
While Sam knows that he won’t be able to replace everything in his life with an open source alternative, the choices are quite big actually. You would be amazed what people share on the Internet already now and also what parts of everyday technology and software are based on the open source concept. This blog for example is powered by WordPress which is open source and all of our digital art is created with Paint.net, another open source software.
ForThis video project and essentially education project, as we will all learn about the different options, Sam is considering and trying along the way. Sam is raising $20.000 on Indiegogo until Wednesday August 8th and you can help him meet his goal. The money will be used for equipment, team and expenses that will allow him to focus 100% on creating this exciting documentary.
In this first episode of edugogo I sat down and talked to Shachar Tal, one of the project leaders of sCoolWork.
sCoolWork is a web application that streamlines the process of essay writing for students. From the initial formatting to finding resources on the Internet, grammar, spell and plagiarism check – everything is included in one application that can be accessed via any modern web browser.
An early version of sCoolWork is already open to the public in beta. Everyone who would like to give sCoolWork a spin before supporting the project with some money can sign up for free at scoolwork.com.
During our interview, which you can watch below, Shachar and I also talked about the potential issues with teachers, of course. The feedback the team received was very positive as teachers understood very quickly that the product is not about short cutting the process or even cheating. What sCoolWork does is to streamline the process of writing an essay by supporting the student with the tools he needs to work more efficiently.
The sCoolWork team also has a social mission. For each paid account they will give away one account (possibly more) for free to schools and students in developing countries. Shachar and the team want to give more people access to the English language as they think this is a crucial skill in the globalized world.
sCoolWork is trying to raise $20.000 by Monday, September 3rd. If you want to support sCoolWork and get a membership at a reduced price or even a lifetime membership, visit indiegogo.com/scoolwork