Q&A: ShowMe Founder Taps Into the Great Teachers of the World

ShowMe Founder San Kim joins us today to discuss how ShowMe, a mobile app that allows educators to record and share whiteboard lessons with students, is tapping into the knowledge of great teachers to deliver quality lessons to students around the globe. San Kim first developed the idea of a whiteboard-based online teaching technology while working as a tutor and classroom instructor in high school math, science, writing and more. ShowMe was founded in 2009 and took several years to develop into the simple and widely used app that it is today.

How is ShowMe currently introduced into the classroom? What are some of the primary teaching methods educators are adopting with the app?

Teachers use ShowMe in all kinds of different ways, from creating lessons for kids to watch at home, or recording ShowMes during class time, to even turning the table and asking the students to create lessons on what they’ve learned (“learning by teaching” model). We feature lots of these use cases and best practices on http://showme.com/blog.

ShowMe brings the whiteboard to just about any device a student has available to learn. What’s the biggest advantage to ShowMe over an interactive whiteboard in the classroom? What sets ShowMe apart in its technological design from other video recording tools that educators may be using?

Beyond the flexibility that you allude to (access on just about any device), the biggest key for ShowMe is simplicity. Interactive whiteboards are the most-purchased and least-used product in the world! We’ve heard countless stories about schools buying interactive whiteboards and collecting dust. The reason is that interactive whiteboards, like a lot of ed-tech tools, are really hard to use. We follow the 5-second rule: If you can’t figure out how to use our app in 5 seconds, we’ve failed.

Khan Academy, a free resource with video lessons by Sal Khan, has been a big hit among educators, students, investors, and more. Yet, the downside of this is that it’s just one instructor, one great educator. How is ShowMe empowering all of the great educators in the world?

We’re giant fans of Sal Khan; and we think he’s an awesome teacher. BUT, there are thousands of other great teachers out there. We want to empower other great teachers create their own Khan Academy, and to do that we need to provide super-intuitive tools for them to create great lessons.

What is ShowMe doing to develop a platform that is more personalized and adaptive to each student’s learning needs?

We try not to be prescriptive with our product, or steer people toward how they SHOULD be using ShowMe. The app is just a whiteboard – nothing more. The blank slate is a powerful concept that allows people to express themselves in amazing, unpredictable ways. We just try our best to get out of their way.

ShowMe is a free app and platform. In the open educational resources (OER) debate, many are concerned about the quality, accuracy, and relevance of works created by the public. What is ShowMe doing to ensure the quality of its videos and resources?

Like Wikipedia, we have volunteer moderators who maintain the high quality of the content. But at the end of the day, the entire community has to take ownership of this function, and we can take their collective feedback to organize/moderate the community. We’re not there yet, but we’re working hard at it.

ShowMe is used mostly in K-12 schools. How do you envision the app developing into higher education, professional development, and lifelong learning?

There’s no limit to where and how ShowMe can be used. We were fortunate to get massive support from K12 teachers early on, but we’re also seeing adoption at later levels too, so expect to see our community grow beyond K12 very soon.

Where do you see the greatest potential for ShowMe among educators and students?

The biggest untapped resource in the world is all the knowledge trapped in our teachers’ heads. If we can tap into just a fraction of that knowledge and expertise, I think the world will benefit greatly.
ShowMe is a Learn Capital portfolio company where Tom Vander Ark is a partner.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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