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Behind-the-scenes activities, product releases, and company news from the Brainscape team

Apple is now making 20-year bets. It has to.

By , 1/2/2014 at 1:26 pm

Apple-logoOver the past few years, Apple haters have delighted in the fact that the company has not released a major new product line since the iPad.  “Apple can’t innovate without Steve Jobs,” the mantra goes.  “They’re dying.”

Yet recall that when Steve Jobs first returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, the company barely had 3 months of cash in the bank (and had to be temporarily bailed out by Microsoft).  Jobs was practically forced to release a new product line — the iMac — within fewer than 2 years of re-taking the helm, lest the company go bankrupt.  Apple’s short development cycles were a result of necessity and were made possible by setting more “modest” short-term goals.  And people got spoiled.

Things are a lot different now.  Growing hordes of cash reserves from the iMac (and soon after the MacBook and iPod) have allowed Apple to extend its R&D cycle many more years.  Indeed, Apple didn’t release the iPad until a full nine years after it first began working on it in 2001.  The recently released iPad Air represents a full fourteen years’ worth of iPad R&D.

Now that it’s 2014 and Apple has about $150 billion in the bank (8x the size of NASA’s budget), do you honestly think that their A-Team is rushing to release a cute new little revenue-earning product within a matter of months?  Do you think Tim Cook is fighting Carl Icahn’s dividend demands because he needs that $150 billion in cash to spend developing next year’s products?

Helllllz nah.

With such a fast-growing mound of cash, Apple literally has a responsibility to plan much more ambitious innovations for the long haul.  They need to be forecasting what the world will want in the year 2025 or 2035, and their Board of Directors knows it.  I have no doubt that Steve Jobs and Jony Ive spent many hundreds of hours formulating this multi-decade strategy during his final years.

So whatever groundbreaking new products Apple releases in 2014 or 2015, I plan to ignore both the fanboys and the haters.  I will rest assured knowing that Apple’s best years are way, way ahead of it.

Brainscape Is The Thread That Holds Your Learning Together For Life

By , 5/13/2013 at 8:50 am

bc library tapestryAmerica’s current education technology ecosystem suffers a tremendous weakness: Students are constantly forced to switch between learning platforms nearly every year, as they progress through K-12, college, and graduate school.  At the beginning of each school year, students are painfully herded onto different learning management systems (or “apps”), and all their learning data from previous semesters’ studies is completely lost or ignored.

Such constant platform switching prevents students from leveraging past semesters’ mastery in a fully adaptive and scaffolded learning process. Without a systematic way to refresh their knowledge over the years, students forget what they’ve learned in previous semesters when they are repeatedly forced to re-learn the same subject many times throughout their K-12 and college journeys.  Billions of dollars worth of education are wasted on one-time cram units that evaporate into thin air once the semester is over.

Solving this problem is one of the main reasons we founded Brainscape.
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How Google Glass could transform education (and Brainscape)

By , 5/10/2013 at 8:20 am

google glass education brainscapeFor weeks now, tech news pundits have been speculating about all the possible uses of Google Glass in the real world.  Topping the list seem to be (1) utility apps such as text messaging, video, and navigation; (2) novelty apps such as games and ‘hangouts; and (3) career-focused apps such as for firefighters, carpenters, and surgeons.  What few people have been discussing is how heads-up displays (HUDs) such as Glass might end up fundamentally changing the way we learn.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic for the past several months – especially as it relates to Brainscape.  While I’m still not convinced that we will soon live in a world where everyone is walking around with a computer on their face, I do see three major ways in which students could use Glass for education: (more…)

Brainscape Takes 6 of the Top 10 Spots in the App Store’s Free Education Apps Chart

By , 5/9/2013 at 5:49 pm

top 3 of 4 apps in education are brainscapeCheck out this screenshot of the App Store last night. Not only is Brainscape’s Learn Spanish App the #1 free educational app in the App Store– 5 of our other apps rose to the Top 10, making up the majority of the top free educational apps. Couldn’t be prouder!

Here at Brainscape HQ, we’ve been working really hard: improving the app, releasing new subjects, and changing our look. We’re glad to know that hard work pays off and just wanted to share.

Hopefully this is the path we’ll be on for the foreseeable future. We still have high hopes for the main Brainscape App (and you should all go download it and sync to your Brainscape accounts!) and will continue to work even harder to make Brainscape the best learning platform in the world.

Thank YOU for helping make us a success.

Why every startup should be using Trello for project management

By , at 11:10 am

Having come from the worlds of Consulting and Fortune 500 companies, many startup founders have a tough time adopting an agile product management style.  I certainly did when I founded Brainscape a few years ago.  I was so accustomed to clean, hierarchical, long-term plans in Microsoft Project, that I would become dismayed every time my 6-month “plan” would get derailed by new business circumstances.

All this changed when I discovered Trello(more…)

Do you know how much your students actually study?

By , 5/8/2013 at 12:00 pm

As educators, it’s not our job to spoon-feed knowledge into students’ brains. Instead, contrary to the traditional “lecture” model, our job is to help students learn how to become better learners themselves.  Motivating students to study class materials outside of class (rather than just relying on lectures) allows us to focus valuable class time on collaborative, project-based learning, while helping students become more self-driven learners for the rest of their lives.

So how can you really tell if a student has spent significant time studying outside of class?  Here are a few strategies: (more…)

What’s New, Brainscape? Lots of New & Updated Subjects!

By , 3/25/2013 at 8:08 am

new Brainscape subjectsSPRING IS HERE! At Brainscape we’re celebrating the Spring Equinox with an update to the Brainscape App and NEW Brainscape subjects. We’ve also updated some of our existing subjects, so take a look below to see what we’ve just released and what’s about to hit the shelves… (more…)

What is the best time of day to use Brainscape?

By , 3/22/2013 at 3:21 pm

According to Brainscape’s recent data, it appears that our millions of users tend to study with roughly equal frequency at various times throughout the day.  Some study when they wake up in the morning. Some study on their commutes.  Some study while watching TV after dinner.  And – if Brainscape users are like most smart phone users – some probably study on the toilet as well.

But is there a time of day where our Brainscape study sessions are most likely to be effective?  A recent study in the journal Public Library of Science One may have found the answer to this question. (more…)

How’d the Brainscape Team Make it Through Sandy

By , 11/15/2012 at 3:32 pm

As you have been hearing in the news, Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York, New Jersey and the East Coast nearly three weeks ago. She left millions without power or heat for days, and thousands more are still without power, heat or even homes. If you can help out, here is a good resource to help you get started.

Thankfully, the Brainscape team was unharmed, and we’ve been back in our office the past two weeks. Those of us who lost power had it restored a week later, and none of us suffered major damages. The one thing about Sandy that affected the team most was the lack of transportation, leaving us working virtually for an entire week.

Luckily, the Monday morning before the hurricane hit, we were still able to squeeze in our weekly meeting…even without being able to take the subway to work. Thank you Google Hangouts for saving our meeting! Take a look at the NINE of us hanging in our Google Hangout right before we lost power. (more…)

Systems-Based Learning

By , 11/13/2012 at 10:49 am

Q: What do Candy Land, law school, and computer programming all have in common?

A: They all require us to learn a series of rules comprising a system.  No single rule in any of those situations would have helped us succeed unless we understood how the various rules fit together into a complete system.  In fact, no matter how complex a game, profession, or hobby, it could be said that every important human activity requires us to understand a system.  Systems-based learning is arguably the single most important component of education – from infancy through adulthood.
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