As a Discovery user for years, I would have never guessed that I could be any more excited about where Discovery is headed. I am a fan of all things discovery and believe that they do many things right! And guess what? They have stepped up and knocked it out of the park again! Discovery’s new Mobile website has suddenly stopped me in my tracks and made me rethink the way Discovery is being used in the classroom.
If I took a snapshot in time of most people using Discovery today, I would guess the a large majority of them would be showing a video. A very small portion, unfortunately, would be utilizing the additional tools from Discovery to engage those students further on the video’s content. I see this changing with the new Mobile App from Discovery.
Imagine if you will, a classroom where students are given an ipad and told to write an essay on Christopher Columbus. If you are like most, you see an ipad for reading and searching, playing games and chatting with friends… not researching, writing and taking a test. Discovery is changing the game. Your students can be assigned a project. Within that project, they will have the assigned video to watch, the assignment they need to complete with links etc., the writing prompt they are to use to create their essay and the test they are to take upon completion of all of their research. With a little bit of time on the back end, a teacher can create and establish a virtual classroom where the class becomes student led and teacher facilitated. Although Discovery has not released the full version of this application, it will be out before Thanksgiving and will give teachers a lot to look at during their break.
So now I know your wondering what is available. Well, its pretty amazing to look at when you first sign in to the site. It is a totally different look than the main website and with good reason. Discovery created this Mobile App to be geared toward the students. So upon login, the user sees simplified links to subject matter relevant to the classroom, like Language Arts, Mathematics and more. If the user clicks on one of those subject matters, a window flips open to break down that subject into smaller more specific topics and in parenthesis tells how many videos are related. If you click on one of the links in that window it brings you to a somewhat recognizable search page where you can drill down to the best match, most popular or recently added materials. You can also do a search specific to your needs on this page or use the left hand navigation to drill down even more as well.
When you decide on the appropriate video, you can click and watch immediately with no lag time. You will notice that just under the video you can view the video info, the segments, related materials, citations and where applicable, what series its in. The best part is once you start the video you can use your first two fingers to spread the video and fill the whole screen. The video can be watched any way you turn the ipad. It also can be paused, or you can fast forward and rewind it to fit your needs. It’s Discovery at its best.
My favorite part of this Application is the part that is soon to come. Discovery’s version 2 will include the teacher center where students can retrieve and complete their assignments right there on their device. Discovery is even working to bring this to Android devices as well as ipod touches, iphones and more. If you don’t have an ipad or similar device yet, you can take a moment to view what is available on your regular computer by visiting the mobile site in your browser.
For those of you who love the Discovery Science product, your time will come. Discovery is working with Apple and others to come up with a solution to work around the flash issue on the iPad. Currently all of Discovery’s interactive labs are created in Flash and will not show on an Apple device, but there is hope that the future will bring good things here as well. Keep your chin up and look to the future.
Things just got a lot brighter with Discovery Mobile, just look and see!