New York City, New York – (April 23, 2015)
Today’s $14 billion dollar textbook industry is primed for change. Twenty-first century students expect interactive, on-demand learning experiences that respond and adapt to their dynamic, personal needs. DISCO (Disco Learning Media, Inc.), a new educational startup, aims to provide modern learning experiences integrating data and design. Their first product offering is the course app, an evolution of the textbook.
DISCO’s co-founders, Juan Garcia, Coleman Tharpe, and Dr. Michael Webber, share over 20 years in combined media production and educational design experience. In 2013, the DISCO team created the successful Energy 101 Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for UT Austin, which became the world’s first course app.
The spark of inspiration came when Garcia realized Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) platform could be reconfigured to track student learning, in lieu of consumer habits. “What if we just swapped the word ‘advertising’ with the word ‘assessment’,” says Garcia, DISCO’s President. “Now instructors can see how their students are learning – if they’re learning – and can reconfigure the curriculum based on robust analytics.”
Rather than printed books, PDFs, or ePubs, course apps come with all the benefits of mobile applications. “By using an app-based model, we have the ability to update the content for the lifetime of the product,” says Tharpe, Vice President of Operations. “This gives schools and instructors tremendous flexibility in how they use the product. Now we can update and revise as needed. No more textbooks falling out of date the moment they go to print. If something significant happens, authors can add in a new chapter overnight.”
Course apps also offer a significant cost savings over traditional textbooks. “We’ve already saved 400 students $80,000 in textbook fees in just two semesters,” says Dr. Webber, Chairman and distinguished faculty member from UT Austin. Webber is referring to the Energy 101 course app pilot project at Stanford, Duke, and UT Austin in the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 school year.
“With high quality design and powerful data, I envision a learning environment that students and schools both appreciate. The course app not only reimagines the textbook but also provides a gateway to better learning experiences – perhaps even one day relieving the need for standardized tests, now that we can track student progress on a daily level. ” Garcia says.
DISCO will be headquartered in Austin, Texas.
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