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  • Alice 11:38 pm on November 27, 2011
    1 votes
    |

    Tags: , m-learning, virtual simulations   

    Dress Rehearsal is a gesture-based sewing instruction application for Apple and Android mobile devices. In the Dress Rehearsal application, beginning sewists will develop and rehearse foundational sewing and dressmaking skills and techniques on a virtual sewing machine before ever setting needle to fabric. In this rich, simulated sewing studio, learners will use the tactile affordances […]

    Continue reading Dress Rehearsal: A Gesture-based Sewing Instruction Application Posted in: Week 13: Venture Forum
     
    • Julie S 9:20 pm on November 28, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Allie,

      Good job of making the market clear in terms of size of market and type of user – tech savvy yet traditional. You continued to make the market super clear in your venture pitch. I started out quite skeptical of the concept but after reading your report it made a lot of sense. Good luck with this if you are really going to pursue it. Sounds exciting.

      – Julie

      • Allie 11:47 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks very much for your feedback, Julie! I’m particularly happy to read that my idea was compelling and clearly laid out enough to win over a skeptic! (I was also happy to receive your comment; i was quite apprehensive after seeing my post go up in a sea of very academically oriented learning tech ventures that people would look at it and say… sewing!? really!?)

    • David William Price 9:25 pm on November 28, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Allie

      KUDOS! you are the only person in the ten pitches I watched who actually made an elevator pitch… meaning an in-person, face-to-face pitch in your own voice. As one of our shy members (your post about pseudonyms)

      I have to emphasize how amazing this is! I’ve actually helped create three pitches for real entrepreneurs and watched them pitch to real investors. I can’t tell you how important it is that investors see and hear the founder and determine whether they like the person, can work with the person, and trust the person.

      Thank-you for doing this! I will definitely review your venture pitch.

      • Allie 11:50 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        danke schoen! The EPs I reviewed early in term were all sweaty-palmed entrepreneurs in front of a camera, and so I didn’t think to do anything else! I appreciate your comments about the importance of affect in these EPs, and thanks for reviewing my VP!.

    • andrea 6:12 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hello Allie,
      Congrats on a strong elevator pitch and venture pitch. As Julie noted, you did a great job illustrating the size of the market both in people and dollars. I also liked your clear characterization of your potential buyer as “traditional yet tech-savvy.” Well done!
      Andrea

      • Allie 11:56 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks Andrea! It’s funny how we often think of traditional and tech-savvy as being somehow opposed; throughout the course, I kept reflecting about how totally integrated technology is within sewing and crafting communities; with nearly every emerging market we discussed, I found I could see the intersections with lifelong learning so much more clearly than with academic anthropology and art history (what I formally teach). I designed Dress Rehearsal to respond to my own key frustrations with learning to sew (I’m entirely self-taught, and learned through online resources over the last 1.5 years).
        Cheers, Allie

    • Angela Novoa 5:16 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Allie,

      Great job! Your elevator and venture pitch offer an innovative and attractive product. I am sure that there is a market gap for Dress Rehearsal. As it has been mentioned before, you provided a detailed venture pitch with strong information about the size of the market (speaking of population and money required). I missed information about the competency of the venture’s leaders and advisors (championship). Could you provide information about the members of this venture and how they have become experts on this field?

      Congrats on developing a strong and innovative concept.

      Angela.

      • Allie 12:08 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Angela,
        Thanks so much for your kind comments! I admit that when I wrote the VP, I didn’t go back to our 2.7 materials on “anatomy of a pitch;” I simply looked at the course requirements page. And am kicking myself a little! I don’t yet have a management team in place, although I think that my *needs* would be someone with good knowledge of web development, and someone with good knowledge about the market in learning applications, and someone with great knowledge of and connections within the overall sewing/crafting market. I’m pretty sure that through my network I have two of those three covered – I know a fantastic web developer, and a fashion designer who teaches garment design and construction at a few of the local fashion schools.
        As for my own expertise as venture leader, I’m an educator (doing this MET program, but also having developed and taught post-secondary courses for 8 years) and a sewist. I’m I only began to learn how to sew a year and a half ago, and am entirely self-taught, off of online resources. Turns out that’s how most crafters today learn (Torrey et all 2009). I came up with the idea for Dress Rehearsal when I was working through a technique I learned online – and for the first time wasn’t going back and forth from my computer to the sewing machine, awkwardly trying to piece the two pieces of fabrics together. It was finally a fluid process, and I thought – how about I design a learning program for sewing that’s portable and small enough to be held at the sewing table (i.e. mobile device), and that helps sewists learn by doing – not by reading or showing.
        best, Allie

        • Angela Novoa 10:58 am on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

          Hi Allie,

          Thanks for the information that you provided. I am really messy at sewing, but maybe, by having the experience of Dress Rehearsal, I could be able to learn (I am always enthusiastic about gaming and simulated environments for learning). I think that your idea is really innovative. I watch at my niece having such a good taste on combining colors. She plays with web 2.0 apps to make dresses but have never sewed. I think that she would learn a lot from your product.

          Angela.

    • David William Price 10:55 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Elevator pitch assessment

      Allie – Dress rehearsal

      First Impression: Shows the CEO speaking directly to us, reading is distracting, clever product name

      CEO Credibility: Seems confident in her concept and smiles at the end and appears to be an example of her own target market

      Management Team: No team is mentioned, but the CEO appears and seems to be her own subject-matter expert for the sewing and m-learning aspect, at least at a high level.

      Venture Concept: Gesture-based sewing learning using m-learning devices, including feedback and troubleshooting. Not sure how this would work. Is the sewing with a machine or by hand? Intriguing enough to read more.

      Opportunity Space: Young, female, traditional but tech savvy. Addressing $29 billion crafting industry and 12 million 18-34 US women using m-learning devices. Not clear how many young women are sewing… would be a good number to have. No indication of pricing or revenues.

      Market Readiness: No description of how this will be marketed or distributed, how to enter the market or how to grow presence.

      Competitive Edge: Claimed advantage is m-learning gesture-based advice and troubleshooting.

      Exit Strategy: No indication of their target market, its size, or how they will capture it. No indication of what investment is wanted or how it will be repaid.

      Overall Investment Status: CEO seems earnest about the concept and defines a broad market. Concept appears lower risk as it’s an m-learning app, however there is likely very little upside for an investor—how many will buy this app and how long will it take to repay me? I don’t know how much cash is asked. Would be interested to read more to see how the crafting market and m-learning market intersect in an m-learning sewing market.

      • Allie 12:45 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Many thanks for your detailed review of my EP, David. You offer many good points to consider, and if I am to revise my EP, I certainly will take them into account. It’s a new genre for me.
        – I was a little disappointed too that i was reading off script more than I would like. Especially because I pride myself on my lecturing/public speaking skills. Given my own time constraints – having well and truly knocked myself out over that Social Analytics presentation the week before – and my and my partner-producer’s difficulties working iMovie that weekend, it was the best I could do (I wanted to do some splicing, and demonstration, but it just wasn’t happening 🙁 ). I realize one could raise one’s finger and object “but in the real world!” My real world is that I had both assignments worth the same % back to back. Not saying that your point isn’t well taken.
        – interesting that you wonder if it would be hand or machine sewing. I’ll have to find a way to make it clearer that it would be machine sewing. hand sewing tends to be the province of couture (= really advanced).
        – it’s true – it’s difficult to gauge the number of sewists out there, especially in my demographic. IN the VP, I do mention the demographics and numbers of members and monthly unique hits for the two main english-language websites for 18-34 beginner sewists. Perhaps I could really do some sleuthing and find out the sales figures for beginner sewing books. i don’t know if that would be heavily guarded or relatively accessible. Have you any ideas?
        – pricing I mention in the VP (4.99, based on other educ virtual apps). It’s true that while I provided numbers of potential users (750,000 Burdastyle members, starting from 0 in 2007)), I didn’t project numbers for how many more members will register with Burdastyle over the next couple years, nor what % might want to buy Dress Rehearsal. I guess… I’m a little in the dark as to how many I could reasonably expect to use Dress Rehearsal. 5%? 10%? Do you have any idea how I might go about working that out?
        (Burdastyle is the massively popular sewing website for 18-34 year olds whose open source patterns would be taught on Dress Rehearsal.)
        – you ask for some things, that I think are totally reasonable, to include in the EP. Like most, I struggle with doing it in the most succinct possible way. If you have any suggestions for how I might very succinctly include any of these within my pitch, I’m all ears.

    • Deb Kim 3:54 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Allie,

      When I first saw “Sewing” in your title, I got really excited because I love making things too. Although I’m a huge fan of knitting, sewing is another area that I’d like to dig in. I’ve dreamt of making my own clothes but haven’t tried yet because it’s hard to teach myself without help either from a book (traditional way) or from technology (your venture fits perfectly!).
      I was a little curious at the beginning (before reading your venture pitch) how Dress Rehearsal was going to compete against other sewing apps or videos (e.g. YouTube) available online, but your clear venture pitch answered this question.
      Great work overall!

      Deb

      • Allie 9:19 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Deb,
        I know! I learned from books/online resources – am *still* learning a lot! – and it’s really hard.
        But go sew! If I can do it, anyone can! Sewing one’s own clothes is awesome. And send me any sewing questions anytime – there are some awesome online resources that I’m more than happy to share!
        Allie

    • David William Price 4:12 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Allie Dress Rehearsal – Venture Pitch assessment

      CEO Credibility: Founder does not provide description of herself, background, or qualifications.

      Management Team: Founder does not describe people involved or existing resources.

      Venture Concept: Gesture-based application on Android smartphones teaching women 18-44 how to sew using freely-available patterns. Gestures meant to guide learners through physical actions for handling fabric and sewing by hand and machine. App teaches basic skills missing from online instruction and helps use plentiful but poorly worded patterns

      Opportunity Space: Online sewing community over 500,000 members, average household income $70,000. Crafting growing, driven by beginning sewists. Majority self-taught relying on web, challenged to translate instruction into actions. Founder not describe target market share or revenue. Founder assumes “tech savviness” (needs definition) in sewists translates to purchasing smartphones.

      Market Readiness: Venture relies on existing technology (mobiles, gesture-interface software, apps) and existing content (sewing patterns, techniques). Touch-gesture input may require significant complex development and pilot-testing. “Vast majority” of users of sewing websites have sewing machine. Why they would practice with mobile rather than their machine? How well does learning on smartphone translate into intricate hand motions for handling fabrics and making stitches? Potential partnerships with pattern designers and websites mentioned but not described. Price of $4.99 high for mobile users and subject to 30% app market cut.

      Competitive Edge: Uses touch-gesture technology, potential significant development for application to sewing. Innovation may have high barrier to entry but unclear how well translates into transferrable sewing skills.

      Exit Strategy: Founder does not describe initial target market or how to grow, amount of investment, projected revenues, or timelines for return of investment.

      Overall Investment Status: Smartphone app relying on individual purchases. Highest selling apps tend to be games. Given app market fee, taxes, cost of goods, etc. how many need to be sold over how many years to recoup a $100k investment with a better return than the stock market? Not clear how founder will leverage partnerships to improve sales. Without demo or scientific backup to connect touch gestures to actual sewing learning, consider this investment high risk and would not pursue it.

    • Jay 8:19 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Allie,

      You have an interesting idea and I particularily like your idea on learning by doing as it touches on some of the educational theory I have been reading and the importance of not removing the learning from context. You describe the idea clearly in your elevator pitch and I found your venture pitch addressed key aspects such as the market and competition.

      One comment I have: While your target market is likely females, I would be careful in gendering your pitch as this might imply that men do not like to sew. I don’t doubt that there are more women occupy this market but I am just advocating for inclusion of men into such a pitch and caution gendering that may lead to exclusion. Just a thought on your great idea.

      Cheers,
      Jay

      • Allie 9:34 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Jay,
        Thanks for your review! I was also thinking a lot about how I targeted women specifically… especially since I’ve studied a lot of feminist theory in graduate school. And because a couple of the powerbloggers are really quite interested in the gendering associated with fashion and sewing – and the huge popularity of retro and vintage 50s patterns. And since one of my favourite sewing bloggers is a man (peter lappin, who writes “male pattern boldness”), and one of the topics that emerges every so often in the online sewingsphere is… do men sew? why do or don’t they?
        I was genuinely surprised to find out that women make up 95% of the market share (and that’s the lowest number I found; the other I found was 97%!); craft magazine’s ‘brother’ is Maker (of MakerFaire) magazine has similar numbers of male readers. If this weren’t a business oriented class and venture, I probably would have taken a somewhat more sensitive approach to gender, but given the assignment and audience, I took women to be the norm.
        Do you sew?
        Allie

    • Jay 9:58 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for you response and glad to see your awareness and sensitivity to the matter. I think that even though it is a business context it is important to consider these issues to move past them, even in business. Thanks for presenting the numbers of male readers of a similar magazine.

      With regards to sewing, i do not sew myself mainly for lack of time to learn but hopefully in the future that changes. I would be interested in learning (mainly for practical purposes, not “sew” much as a hobby. It would be quite “handy” since I currently have a button that needs to be fastened to my winter coat!
      (Sorry for all the plays on words. Been a long day)

      Cheers!
      Jay

      Cheers.
      Jay

    • verenanz 11:12 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Allie! Absolutely love it…..Since I am in your target market…it doesn’t surprise me…(well done pointing that out). I couldn’t access your video (I’m in China) but I did read over your venture. I could “read” your enthusisam throughout the paper….and that’s what will sell this App!!!
      I think it’s a great idea…and if it happens- pls send me the link. $4.99 is a great price for such a great learning tool. Well done!
      Verena:)

    • ashleyross 2:43 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Allie,

      I think you have a very interesting product. Reading through your VP you seem well researched and it was clear right away what this product was selling and how it would work. I also like the idea of tactile learning how to sew on a tablet or mobile device before moving over to the machine. I have to be honest, I love the idea and concept of sewing but unfortunately I was not provided with the sewing gene. I’m a little sewing inept even with a machine, so the idea of practicing before actually wasting fabric sounds wonderful to me. 🙂

      I have a few suggestions for improving your VP. Although you seem really knowledgeable regarding this field I would have liked to know a little more about your background and how you fit into Dress Rehearsal. Also, will you be personally designing the gesture-based interface of your product or how will it actually be developed? The only other addition I might suggest for a future VP is providing any challenges or weaknesses you’re working to overcome. Maybe it’s finding the right person to build the product? Regardless I think you have a great product and best of luck with it! Is this something that you are planning to develop?

      Cheers,

      Ashley

    • mcquaid 5:39 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi, Allie. You’re in my top three! I liked your elevator pitch and how unique (yet lucrative) your market was. I was drawn to delve deeper (having a very crafty wife probably helped me visualize some things… especially potential revenue!). Here are some thoughts I had on your idea:

      Despite your 18-34 focus, I think there could be significant opportunity in the intermediate / high school market, too. You kept mentioning girls / women as your market, but what better way to increase boys’ interest in sewing (or knitting… more are doing it again now, after decades of not) than to put it on a mobile device. Maybe even make a serious game out of it – rewarding precision and correctness with points / trophies, etc. Home Economics might get a boost in enrolment and fun / attitude towards the course. That being said, I wonder how hard it would be to make your program look real and act realistically (animations / different fabrics, etc.).

      Another potential market that I think would be quite large is the cultural one. Imagine preserving craft-based traditions (thinking First Nations especially), so that youth could maintain their culture? I could easily see this also going into Parks Canada programming for classes / visitors.

      I thought your pricepoint was very reasonable. Simple games on something like a PS3 often market for $15 – $20, and may have no updates. If your program can be made as good as it sounds, I think you could easily up your price (your market’s pretty affluent, too, after all).

      I like the name, you made great points on scaffolding and practice, and I thought you put together a great variety of supportive research.

      I’m in!

      Stephen

  • mcquaid 9:01 pm on November 27, 2011
    6 votes
    |

    Tags: , , , m-learning,   

    Watch the rePhrase Elevator Pitch. Read the rePhrase Venture Pitch. Leave some constructive feedback. Thanks!            

    Continue reading rePhrase – A3 Posted in: Uncategorized, Week 13: Venture Forum
     
    • Jim 5:28 pm on November 28, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Stephen!

      Very cool elevator pitch and I was struck by the similarity between your product and my product in terms of the underlying rationale. Both of our products assist students who have difficulty making meaning from text. Yours rephrases to a different reading level. Mine automatically adds relevant images.

      Anyway, constructive criticism: Your video could be six seconds longer 🙂 That gives you time to do a 6-second mock-up of what the rephrasing application might look like. That is about the only thing I thought was missing. I thought the part where you spoke was well written, concise, and communicated all you needed to communicate in a very short time. And, VERY cool logo. Makes my logo look like a hack job!

      (BTW – Your venture proposal will be one of the three I will be reviewing in more detail tomorrow. Right now, I am looking at all 10 and making an initial post re: the elevator pitch.)

      • mcquaid 6:42 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Jim, you can probably appreciate how long it took me to make that logo! From start to finish, it was in the “hours” category. I looked for a site that made free logos & had free / stock images. Since a finished logo had to be paid for, I ended up copying my designed logo, complete with grid lines into a photo-editing program, and erasing the grid lines / colouring in pixels by hand! I like what I ended up with, but would also like it to be a bit sharper.

        You’re absolutely right about those lost six seconds… that’s 10% more time I could have used! The final take of me you saw, though, was self-shot-take number 27. I was happy with what I ended up with by then!

    • bcourey 5:22 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Stephen,

      I was really impressed with the logo as well for your venture. You are definitely addressing a problem teachers face – finding reading materials that are leveled to the ability of the reader. As a former literacy coach for our schools, I feel your pain. As schools and students purchase more and more e-books, I can see this becoming very useful – but in the meantime, scanning and uploading paper books will be a very time consuming tasks for teachers and parents and I am wondering if they would be willing to do that. Also, you might consider offering some literacy strategies for teachers to help them help students progress in their reading abilities – otherwise they could stay “stuck” at a particular level with little incentive or assistance in improvement. You have a great idea though and you show a lot of insight in your self-reflection!

      Brenda

      • mcquaid 6:44 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Brenda. Being “stuck” is a worry of mine, too. I think rePhrase, if it ever really worked, would be but one tool in an LA / resource teacher’s tool box. Starting out, I think it would just work best on newer texts that schools already have in electronic form. If desired enough, scanned copies would also work (and would hopefully be less glitchy than Kurzweil when it comes to fonts, indents, and the like). Thanks for the comments!

    • Allie 5:32 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Stephen,
      Your confidence really shines though – giving me confidence in rePhrase – and the name perfectly encapsulates what rePhrase does. I admit that for something as compelling as literacy, I do find your delivery a little… dispassionate? It feels very get-the-job-done-right, but I’m maybe wanting a bit more heart. I think i’ll be giving your VP a good close read, but from the EP, I’m thinking that in an American context the costs of students failing reading levels goes beyond just the costs of their having to re-take a year. Under No Child Left Behind, schools can lose funding if the target % of students don’t pass their levels. I should say, they *are* losing funding, they are being threatened with closure, they are having programs cut, and entire schools have been closed due to underperformance. Unsurprisingly, the schools suffering the effects of NCLB are in poorer areas. This question may be answered in your VP, but i’m wondering about access to this service… In an American context, my understanding is that schools are funded through property taxes, and so that the schools that will best be able to afford rePhrase are richer school districts; will the poorer districts be able to get this service that they need?

      • mcquaid 6:46 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Allie. I get the “dispassionate” thing. Maybe a little too Jedi, I was. I think I was trying to project confidence and capability / trustworthiness (so I’m glad that came through), but (as in real life, too), I could probably have used a bit more “oomph” as well.
        To address the “who can use it” comments, I wonder if it could be worked into rePhrase’s pricing /availability plan that schools ID’d as needier / poorer would qualify for discounts or even free licenses…

        Thanks for the thoughts!

    • Keisha Edwards-Hamilton 7:00 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      I am intrigued with your venture. As I went through you venture pitch I can see where it would be useful in my school since it could help students with reading problems. I like the fact that it actually make words simpler so that students can understand because many times students do not understand what they read and therefore may get “turned off” from reading. Although the idea encourages reading, I would add more options for rephrasing in an attempt to cater to the different multiple intelligences of learners. For example, probably I would include sounds and animation to hold readers attention to. Great concept!

      • mcquaid 6:49 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Keisha… maybe sounds and animations could be downloadable add-ons for the app, creating another source of revenue. Good thinking!

        You’re also right about the “turned off reading” point. I have students of mine in mind when I think of this program. I want them to feel capable, be able to read what everyone else in the class is reading, join in the conversation, and grow in their skills.

    • Juliana 9:29 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Stephen,

      You have an interesting idea here. I especially liked how you brought in all of the other educational research into your proposal. I think many times the reason why a venture falls flat is because they forget the basics.

      It also looks like you have done extensive market research on how this program can eventually grow. The fact that you took the time to do that would definitely sway an investor. I have not taught in the K-12 environment, but I can see where your product could be useful. I think I have always taken for granted my level of reading and comprehension and never really thought about the students who are struggling. As a result, I think your venture could provide a little bit of help to students who struggle.

      As with many of these ventures, it could be hard to gauge what people are willing to shell out their hard earned cash for. I do wonder if people would be willing to renew their license on a yearly basis, but that could be just my personal bias. I don’t like software or apps that do ask me to shell out money like that, but I think I am in the minority.

      Juliana.

      • mcquaid 6:52 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Juliana.
        My reasoning for the yearly license was for a few reasons, I think:

        – a program like Kurzweil is quite expensive (four figures around here). I wanted to price myself WAY below that, and make my product look quite enticing.
        – some classes / schools will need this program more or less over the years as students come and go. This would allow them to get it when they need it and not renew when they don’t.
        – the affordable yearly license would ensure I have a continuing source of revenue instead of a one-time purchase.
        – the program may get tweaked from year to year, so a new download / license would be as up-to-date as possible

        Thanks for the thoughts!

    • jenaca 3:10 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Stephen,
      I was really impressed with your pitch and the idea you created! You are definitely targeting a current problem that many schools are faced with today- Implementing and finding reading materials that are leveled accordingly to the meet the needs of students. I also think the name rephrase is perfect for your venture.
      Although I think you have a great idea and pitch here, I am a little unsure about the idea of having the teachers scan and upload the paper books. Maybe this is something you could add to your pitch?
      Otherwise, I think you have a great idea!!
      Jenaca

      • mcquaid 4:25 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        The scanning is something that crossed my mind about my idea as a drawback, as well – I figured I wouldn’t be the only person to think of it (as I see a couple have now). I think, where I saw the progression (whether I said it in my venture pitch exactly or not) was for the use with e-books first (no scanning needed), the use of scanned texts for those who really want them (it’s what we do with Kurzweil), and then… I imagined it as ultimately being something that would work best on a mobile. The user would use their mobile’s camera to see / capture text, and rePhrase would rephrase it for them. Google Goggles can translate… why can’t rePhrase reword?
        Hopefully that alleviates your concerns, my dear investor. 😉

    • jenaca 6:49 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      My concerns are alleviated!! 🙂
      I will be

      The Venture:
      rePhrase is the world’s first ever automatic text leveler and enabler of adaptive text. What rePhrase does is take text from a chosen reading level and adapt it (without changing meaning as much as possible) to make it readable for almost any reader. Taking existing school texts and eliminating the need for many differentiated materials makes things easier on teachers, students, and school budgets.

      Additional Information On How it Works:
      • rePhrase determines the reading level of a body of electronic text that someone wants to read
      • Next the reader will alter the difficulty with a sliding scale at the top of the interface
      • Once a new reading level has been established, the program will use the abilities of a thesaurus and grammar check to change the words of a text without changing its overall meaning or hurting its sentence flow
      • As students grow in ability, they can adapt or change the difficulty of the text to suit themselves

      My Thoughts:
      rePhrase is a well thought and developed idea. The elevator pitch includes the essential information to help me further my decision of investing deeper into this idea. The pitch included statistics, facts, was very precise about the idea and showed confidence. rePhrase definitely has a place in the educational market and have the potential to help schools improve their current reading scores. I believe for the future, this service could create their own reading line, which would enhance the status of this product and essentially create more revenue.
      Great Pitch!
      Jenaca

      • mcquaid 6:54 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks, Jenaca. I’m glad you’ve been convinced! 😉
        I also like your reading line idea… what a great source of dynamic products and constant revenue!

    • Jim 6:39 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi again Stephen,
      I wanted to delve deeper into your Venture Pitch and provide some feedback in the form of a brief EVA analysis. As a potential investor, I am looking in your venture pitch for a variety of information:

      Entrepreneur confidence:
      You exude confidence and calmness in your on camera appearance. Did that confidence continue into your longer Venture Pitch? I think it did continue because I saw arguments made for this product that are reasonable and interesting. You educational background is an asset but I would want to know who you have heading up the business aspects of the company.

      Good product that will be in demand:
      I think rePhrase is a great idea but the road to develop an app that can accurately and quickly rephrase text AND retain the original meaning will be a challenge. I think a successful app in this case would almost need to border on a kind of artificial intelligence (AI) that hasn’t quite been developed. Synonymous word replacement is straightforward but meaning variability, meaning context, word use variability, word connotation variability, and so on might change the meaning of rephrased text so drastically that the original message would be lost. (See honest about challenges below)

      How big is the potential client base:
      I like your market description and you are absolutely right about its potential. You mentioned several ways that the user base could be increased such as bundling with new tablets or other devices. That is a very good idea if a deal could indeed could be struck!

      Can the product compete successfully on the market:
      You rightfully mention that there is no competition although if I was going to invest in your venture, I might look at some of the AI work being done. There are algorithmic summarizers that do an excellent job with text and the more sophisticated ones might apply some AI algorithms that go beyond mathematical models most often used.

      Are you honest about challenges:
      Your pros and cons section speaks well of this. I think you are enthusiastic and excited but also in tune enough with reality to know the limitations. Obviously, if you were to go further, you would need to look into other patents and any other products that even comes close to your idea, including summarizers. You would also need to look at feasibility. Can an app really rephrase text in the way you describe? That is, an app that can written now (not ten years from now…).

      Investment risk?
      I think there is risk in the investment of this venture because, while the idea is very clear and the demand would be great and the problems solved would be significant, the road to the development of a successful product is not clear by any standard. I think your product, in order to be successful, would depend on yet to be developed AI components because your algorithms would have to somehow get a handle on the meaning of the text. Replacing synonymous simple words for more complex words will not work. My own knowledge of the AI research and history of AI failures over the last 60 years does not make me feel very confident.

      P.S. The point I make in the Investment Risk section above is one I would aim at my own Venture, too. BreakOut Illustrator has no clear path to development because I am not sure the technology exists yet to actually do what I want the programming to do.

      • mcquaid 7:01 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Jim.
        I’d like to know more about who would (like to) be in on this venture as well, to steer it into fruition. Anyone? Bueller?
        You’re absolutely right about the technological challenges. One of the strengths of my product is also one of its biggest challenges – its novelty / ground-breaking nature. These technological / AI challenges will definitely be a large hurdle. It’s a risk… but I really do wonder if it would be worth it. If someone (or group) out there thought it was possible (I think it must be, at least partially so, as I envision it), I’d gladly partner up to see it realized. Maybe I should talk to two of my Godparents’ sons… they recently had success on Dragons’ Den with their Honibe products.
        Thanks for your honest comments, Jim. It’s been great working with you and chatting with you throughout this course!

    • schiong 8:57 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi

      I like your rePhrase product.
      As I was going through your Venture Pitch, I was also thinking … “How can this be implemented? ”

      Few things came to my mind … database, theory of automata, and AI.
      I think the application / program is doable. I am tempted to write the code. But, that’s not my role today 🙂

      Now, what I am not certain is how much memory would the program require because it needs to look at how the words are put together … and look for a viable rePhrase without loosing its original meaning. But, this is minor.

      cheers,
      Steve

      • mcquaid 7:03 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Steve.
        I like your can-do / can-be-done attitude! Maybe you should contact me later with your programming hat on instead of your EVA one!
        It’s uplifting to hear that, maybe, the hurdles are surmountable.

        Steve

    • verenanz 11:20 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hello!
      I really love your idea. I am in China right now selling online ESL courses to students…and I can obvioulsy see the potential in your product…but I couldn’t “see” your video – I apologize.

      Your marketing and licensing agreement system seems to follow http://www.busuu.com. I would look to them for some ideas…
      Something that I felt that you were missing was how you would sell your product. Marketing overseas is cultually different than western countries – as I am sure you are well aware. Getting local schools to even “consider” different ideas – is extremely difficult. How will you get to that “billion”dollar market?

      That said, I think that you have a great idea and I really hope that it comes to fuition- because we would be interested in working with you….www.GlobalEd.ca

      Thanks,
      Verena:)

      • mcquaid 7:06 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Verena. I have looked at busuu before – earlier in this course, I think. Perhaps I should delve deeper into the site for some ideas. Thanks for the direction and positive comments. If something ever comes of this, I’ll look you up!

    • carmen 10:54 am on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Great idea venture indeed, Stephen, and there’s definitely a need for this product. I know that for high schools in Vancouver, there are ESL social and ESL science classes, in which students simply can’t join the regular class because of their limited English comprehension skills. It is not easy to find reading materials with simpler language, and yet, teaches concept at the same level of difficulty that suits these students’ needs. The result is that sometimes students who move into the regular science class might find it difficult to adapt when other students of the same grade have learned the foundations in the previous grades. An app like rePhrase will help these teachers provide reading materials that is closer to the regular class (ex. Science 10) and better prepare these ESL students when they join the regular classes.

      One concern I have is how the program might deal with long sentences with complicated sentence structures. I often work with students who understand all the words, but couldn’t decode the meaning of the sentence when the words are put together.

      Another concern is about learning how to read… sometimes translation programs give us something that’s understandable, but not quite grammatically correct. It might take a while to perfect rePhrase.

      Since I don’t have the technical knowledge, I’m not quite sure if these problems can be solved with existing technology. However, I am convinced that this is a great idea and has a lot of potential!

      • mcquaid 8:00 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Carmen.
        Thanks for your encouraging remarks!
        I too, aside from my low-level readers, thought of immigrant students as a great target market – students at grade level mentally, but behind the pack in English. Allowing them to more easily access the content in classes they attend would be a great help to them.

        Long, complex sentences, phrasing (just think of the punctuation issues and possible shifts in meaning), and overall grammar are definitely big concerns of mine, too. I have no idea how to technically attack them… just how I’d like them to work!

        Thanks again for your e-props!

    • themusicwoman 9:20 pm on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Wow, Stephen. What a great concept. i especially like the logo. 🙂
      Agree with many of the sentiments already expressed but I have to say I really appreciate your research into this project. As well, I think I spent a lot of time going over your list of pros and cons at the end of your document. Kudos to you for putting it out there. Again. Wow. I appreciate the fact that it is a new product so much of your information is difficult to acquire.
      Thanks.
      michelle

      • mcquaid 8:02 am on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi, Michelle. Thanks for the compliment on the logo – I truly thought having a good one would lend some credibility to my venture. I remember looking at the Evernote pitch and thinking what the logo did for it – it makes it seem more real and memorable.
        Thanks for the rest of the comments, too… hopefully David reads them all before grading me! 😉

  • Deb Kim 12:47 pm on November 22, 2011
    0 votes
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    Tags: bluetooth, , Internet, learning, m-learning, movies, schedule, SMS, synchronize, teaching, timetable, transfer   

    I apologize for posting it late. I completely forgot to upload the last post. What one change would you require to adopt m-learning for your own teaching and learning?  I still see some problems and concerns of m-learning. Especially these days, I see many students being obssessed/attached to their cellphones. They just can’t let it […]

    Continue reading [DAY 4] m-learning for my own teaching and learning Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
  • Tamara Wong 3:20 pm on November 20, 2011
    0 votes
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    Tags: m-learning,   

    Day 3 •  On the 522 Blog: Design your own m-learning venture by answering the following questions: •  describe a problem in teaching/learning/performance •  how do the affordances of mobiles help solve that problem? •  what learning theory / approach will you use? •  how will  your m-learning solution use mobile affordances? •  what is […]

    Continue reading Day 3 and 4 Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
    • David William Price 7:27 pm on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      What if your students’ mobiles provided them with ways to practise and test their speaking with the people around them out in the real world? My studies of ESL and anxiety show that perfectionism really holds people back from even trying to speak… a mobile might be able to provide them with enough of a crutch to keep them pushing through simple conversations with the people in their neighbourhoods!

  • Deb Kim 4:34 pm on November 18, 2011
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    Tags: , m-learning, , , secondary, ,   

    Describe a problem in teaching/learning/performance. One of the problems I face when I teach Math is that there are not enough resources available out there for students to study in order to improve their fundamental Math skills and problem-solving skills. For example, some of my students still have difficulty adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers/fractions/decimals. However, […]

    Continue reading [DAY 3] Math Master Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
    • David William Price 8:49 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Great ideas!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the assignment. You have an interesting concept. I love the idea of educators creating and sharing questions to enhance and grow your database.

      What do you think of minimizing translation issues by focusing on using icons and imagery in your problems instead of words? Take a look at Robert Horn’s work, or think about “wordless instructions” like those used by Ikea or in emergency exit brochures for aircraft.

      How might you use the computer in the mobile itself to generate questions? It’s probably not necessary to create all the individual questions yourself. Instead you could create heuristics, and the mobile would use the heuristics to generate infinite questions based on those rule sets. THat way you wouldn’t even have to use a lot of data transfer or updates or translation.

      Social networking could be used for collaboration to solve problems together. What about an app that requires collaboration to solve math problems? You can see each other working on the problems… or you share a mobile to work a problem out.

      I guess another issue for me is why people have trouble with math. Do they have a breakdown in conceptual understanding? How might they use the real world to help them understand math problems? A mobile could scaffold them through using real items or conducting real activities that illustrate the math concepts. To some extent, the Khan Academy does this in their videos.

      • Deb Kim 11:08 pm on November 21, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Thank you for the questions, David.

        “What do you think of minimizing translation issues by focusing on using icons and imagery in your problems instead of words?”
        It’s a good idea that we can minimize translation issues by using icons and images instead of words. However, as the math curriculum and new textbooks that have changed over the last 2 years are focusing on mathematical literacy these days, students still need to learn the ways to translate word problems into diagrams and mathematical sentences. I’ve seen so many kids who can solve a word problem that includes a diagram, but not the one without a diagram. Although I give the same word problem to the students, one with a diagram and one without it, the scores between the two are very different. Many students still need to work on solving word problems.

        “How might you use the computer in the mobile itself to generate questions?”
        The collection of questions in a question bank is kind of like creating heuristics. Same formatted question with different numbers each time it’s generated.

        One of my issues with math is how to make a connection between the real world situations and conceptual understanding in math. I’ve applied some real world situations for teaching. For instance, I once used the Tower of Piza to teach trigonometry in Math 9. I briefly went over the history of the Tower of Piza and told students to find as many angles as possible using sine, cosine, and tangent ratios. Another example is that I sent my AWM (Apprenticeship & Workplace Math) 10 students to a convenience store and ask them to pick up things they want to purchase and calculate HST, sale price, and discount.

        Deb

  • Deb Kim 3:37 pm on November 18, 2011
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    Tags: , children, Hesabi, High School, Human Anatomy, m-learning, , mobile app   

    Choose two apps from the sample list below (or find your own award-winning apps) and evaluate them with these questions: what problem does the app solve? what affordances of mobile does the app rely on? what are the non-mlearning (competing) methods of teaching the subject? how is the app’s mlearning approach more or less compelling […]

    Continue reading [DAY 2] Cool M-Learning Devices Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
    • David William Price 8:20 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for your reviews!

      What do you think the possibilities are for apps that scaffold authentic learning vs. trying to do the learning in the mobile itself? An app might help you do a dissection, or might guide you through learning math in realistic contexts, with collaborative activities and sharing of the mobile…

      • Deb Kim 11:15 pm on November 21, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi David,

        Whether an app “scaffolds authentic learning” or “[tries] to do the learning in the mobile itself”, it should suit children at the right age/grade and at the right knowledge level.
        Why not have an app that does both? I’ve seen many websites and games that focus on secondary Math and collaborative activities, but haven’t seen apps for m-learning that focus on them.

        Deb

  • ashleyross 3:10 pm on November 18, 2011
    0 votes
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    Tags: , m-learning, Week 11   

    I have a Google HTC Nexus phone and I use it for many things, including: email, texting, reading blogs, making to-do lists, setting alarms, playing games, taking pictures, recording and watching videos, getting directions using Google Maps, and I also enjoy using the Mobi app to connect to QR codes. I only recently bought a […]

    Continue reading M-Learning Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
    • David William Price 8:39 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for sharing about your mobile, and your reviews.

      As you noted, WIFI is a way to get around expensive data plans. There are even people who do voice-over-IP (VOIP) calls over WIFI instead of using minutes / long distance!

      THe Carleton App is a great example of performance support… mlearning that provides you data you need when you need it. How might you extend the performance support concept for your own work when you’re on the go?

      The Grace App is another amazing performance support app that integrates many mobile affordances. Arguably it helps teach people to communicate in new ways, and to use the picture-taking capability to expand and sharpen “vocabulary”. This is a great example of sharing a mobile… one person creates communication and shares it with another person to understand what is being communicated. Together, the communicator and the audience and working together to understand the message.

      How might this concept be extended for other situations? I’ve often thought a performance support for resolving conflicts would be helpful and usable in similar ways. By running through the process in the mobile with its coaching and scaffolding, people would learn how to turn conflict into opportunities to enrich their relationships and resolve problems rather than fight over them.

  • Deb Kim 9:39 am on November 18, 2011
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    Tags: , , m-learning, , , web browsing,   

    What, when, where and how are you doing m-learning now? I use my mobile device, in particular my iPhone, mostly for web browsing, social networking, emailing, and posting and modifying WordPress posts. Three Math classes I’m currently teaching have a class blog. Whenever there are things I need to modify, I use the WorPress app […]

    Continue reading [DAY 1] What, When, Where and How…? Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
    • David William Price 11:43 am on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Wow, it seems you’re quite mobile. You say “I spend most of my day outside”…. that’s quite different from a majority of our posters who spend most of their time at a desk with a computer.

      It sounds like the convenience of your mobile lets you keep up with work through the student blogs. How many of them use mobiles to post questions or do other learning activities?

      Sounds like the Bible app serves as a performance support… and you can “share” your mobile in your meetings by having it guide discussions. Very cool!

      How might you integrate a more mobile-supported learning model (being out of the classroom and roaming) with your students? Math is everywhere… how might it be made an authentic experience?

      • Deb Kim 3:02 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi David,
        I also spend half of my day at a desk with a computer as I’m a teacher. But considering that it’s usually 9 or 10pm when I arrive home due to other work and activities I do, my iPhone is always in my hand.
        I don’t know if my students use mobiles to post questions/comments, but emails I receive from them are sent from their mobiles quite many times.

        You raised a great question at the end, but I haven’t come up with good ways/methods to integrate a more mobile-supported learning model, especially for math. I personally think that Math is one of the most difficult subjects to teach when it comes around technology. Most of the apps that I see target young children so you can only acquire basic math skills. I think more apps targeting high school students should be developed in order to help students maintain their attention span.

        Deb

        • David William Price 9:03 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

          I remember what exciting me most about calculus was the real-world applications for it… I could calculate the terminal velocity of a penny dropped off the CN Tower. ok, that does sound a bit weird and that doesn’t excite me 20 years later, but math problems are always about real world issues… and I think mobiles are a potential way of scaffolding people through recognizing, confronting, re-enacting, and experiencing those problems and their implications.

  • bcourey 3:43 pm on November 15, 2011
    0 votes
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    Tags: m-learning   

    As Juliana noted, the BB has a limited number of apps compared to other Smartphones, but I explored the Carlton University app found on the Day 2 page of this week’s presentation.  One of the key problems it solved was helping new students navigate around the campus using the GPS feature and map graphics on […]

    Continue reading Day 2: Carlton University App Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
    • ifeoma 9:23 pm on November 15, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Bcourey,
      I agree with you that this app solves a huge problem of helping new students orient themselves with their new environment and I think it also gives the a sneak peek at what to expect in this new environment both academically and socially. I think the Carleton app is a good demonstration of how mobile devices are really good at delivering vital info in byte sizes as needed. A lot of productive time could be saved with this app and students are connected with their learning, literally moving around with their campus 🙂
      Ifeoma

    • David William Price 11:24 pm on November 15, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for your post. This is a great example of a couple of trends: first, letting students use their own mobiles to access information they need rather than forcing them to use some university-sanctioned service; second, using mobiles as performance support… delivering information as needed, when needed.

      Is it crazy to think of a future where higher education is done out in the field with mobile performance supports and we spend little if any time in class?

  • kstooshnov 2:01 pm on November 14, 2011
    0 votes
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    Tags: keitai, m-learning,   

    I was fortunate to live in a country consumed with mobile technology, and witness the evolution of keitai a few years before smartphones were on the market.  Many people in Japan had a very personal connection to these devices, mostly flip phones, decorating them and dangling the many charms from their pockets – an entire industry […]

    Continue reading Back from Keitai-land Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
     
    • David William Price 4:43 pm on November 14, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks very much for your post.

      Japan is extraordinarily mobile-focused. My partner is Japanese and it never fails to surprise me how her family does not use computers at all but relies on their cellphones for all of their email needs. On the other end of the technological and economic spectrum, India and Africa similarly depend on cellphones for access to the Internet and social media. One chooses it for aesthetic reasons, the other out of necessity.

      Perhaps the most surprising thing is despite how sophisticated modern cellphones are, previous generations provide substantial options for m-learning, as you’ll see in the coming days.

    • David William Price 5:03 pm on November 14, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      I should be asking what it is about the Japanese cellphone experience that you miss so much? How do you feel about m-learning in the Japanese context? In North America? Do you see any differences?

      • kstooshnov 8:57 am on November 16, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi David,

        Thanks for your reply, as well as starting off this engaging discussion on cellphones and learning. Now that I know your partner is also Japanese, your comment last week on her critical thinking, adaptation and creativity as a chef make complete sense; not only were the Japanese people I met in Kanazawa experts in mobile technology, but had a fascination of good food that makes celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray and Wolfgang Puck seem like amateurs. The most common question anyone got when they returned from a trip somewhere in Japan was “what did you eat?” This enthusiasm for food, travel and finer things translates easily into the love of well-crafted, useful technology, such as their cellphones.

        What I miss most about m-learning in the country was how ubiquitous it is, evidence of creativity could be found everywhere, but usually treated as no big deal. North America is still getting to that point where daily use of the latest innovation is as commonplace as it is in Japan. Perhaps it might have something to do with the freedom to network: in Japan, learning how to use a cellphone is very decentralized, each person literally taking learning into their own hands. North Americans are still being sold on the concept, and look to their newspapers, TVs and computer screens for the expert’s advice, or the market, to determine how they will learn. As Prof Vogt reminds us, educational technology is a “get rich slow” market, but it was clear to me in Japan they have already raised the bar for m-learning.

        Kyle

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