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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Startup Offering Alternative to Textbooks

Since 2011, students and instructors at Purdue University have been using Jetpack, a hybrid technology developed on campus that allows instructors to create course materials students can access on their computers or smartphones. Now, Jetpack is going public.

The university licensed the technology and a commercial version, called Skyepack was recently launched as a “freemium” alternative to textbooks and e-readers.

“E-books today remind me of how early automobiles were called ‘horseless carriages’ and looked as if they worked best if you harnessed a couple of horses to the front,” said Gerry McCartney, chief information office at Purdue. “This publishing platform is a next step because it allows you to incorporate any type of media and view it on almost any device.”

The technology allows users to combine educational content into packs that are specific to a class lecture at no cost. Instructors can assemble multiple packs and students can access them on most smartphones and tablet devices or online on their desktop computer.

“These mobile apps and software tools are built because they improve student success at Purdue,” McCartney said. “We want to share our success, but we’re not in the business of selling educational technologies. Bu licensing our technologies to companies such as Skyepack, we can make these technologies available to companies and institutions that have a need for them.”

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