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November 29, 2013

Online | Business

Startup Stories: The EdTech Journey of ClassWired

lindsay-rattray-classwired.jpgIn part 1 of a 2-part series Lindsay Rattray, founder of student-centered ELT activity app ClassWired, writes this week for eltjam on how his startup came about.

Stage 1: Super Duper Flashcards
I first started playing with EdTech in the Old City of Damascus, Syria. I had moved there to study Arabic and suddenly discovered how difficult it is. The biggest problem was trying to stuff all the words into my memory – Arabic verbs and plurals are mostly irregular: for one word in English you have to learn two or three in Arabic.

So, being a computer science graduate, I built myself a basic flash card system. I experimented with things like:

  • how many times I need to get a word right to stop showing it to me
  • what to do with those words I just couldn’t seem to remember
  • when to show which word (aka spaced repetition)

At that stage it was just a personal tool borne of need. My teachers and classmates liked it, but I felt the problem of memorising words in language acquisition was so significant that someone must have solved it. I went looking.

I found some great tools. Byki was far more sleek than my clunky design. Anki seems to be the accepted flashcard program to use (and I’ve seen it demoed at programming meetups in Melbourne). Rosetta Stone was more high-tech and immersive than flashcards. Yet I kept using my own flash cards, and never adopted another piece of education in my Arabic studies.

Read the full article on eltjam.

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