|Developer Chat with Kevin and Kent of Top Class Apps.|
Q . Hi Kent and Kevin , welcome to AppAble. Can you please tell us how Top Class Apps got started ?
A. We have known each other since graduate school in the late 90's. Over the years we have collaborated on several educational technology projects. Top Class Apps came about as we realized the impact that mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone could have on student learning.
Q. When exactly did you get started ?
A. We had both attended the Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) conference in 2011 and began brainstorming ideas for creating educational apps as a result of sessions we attended. We officially were founded as a company on March 29, 2012, but had been working together on this pretty much since that NETA conference.
Q. How did you decide on the name ?
A. Kent came up with the name and purchased the domain soon after the conference. We brainstormed several other name ideas as well, but kept coming back to Top Class Apps. We think it fits the educational app market nicely - and we strive to make apps that are "Top Class" while helping kids make it to the top of their class.
Q. Do either of you have a background in IT or how did you end up in this field?
A. We both have full-time careers in education and technology, so our work in app development is a side passion and hobby. Kevin was a high school math teacher and is now a Learning Technologist for a national organization. Kevin has a Master's Degree in Instructional Technology. Kent is currently an assistant principal at an elementary school of nearly 700 students. He has also been a classroom teacher and technology specialist. Kent has a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology.
Q. What is next for Top Class Apps ? Have you an app coming out soon ?
A. As we do both have full-time jobs, work on projects for Top Class Apps moves "slow and steady". We have multiple apps in various stages of development. Realistically our next app will be out next spring or summer. We would like to release two new apps by the end of summer 2013.
Q. My son has used Spelling Star and has had great benefit from it. He loves the star reward system . Do you plan on integrating a similar reward system into future apps?
A. We are so happy to hear that your son is benefiting from Spelling Star! There are many good spelling apps out there - and one of the great things about apps is that it is affordable for parents to get multiple similar apps to provide their children a variety of ways to practice. Spelling Star is unique and effective due to the immediate feedback provided by our Mastery Practice Model. This is a research-based practice strategy. The stars help students see their progress, plus it is similar to many of the popular games that kids play, so they understand the "three stars for mastery" idea. One of our future apps will likely incorporate a similar star reward system. Our other future apps are totally different concepts - you'll have to wait and see :)
Q. Have you plans to cater for older groups as well, or even other subject areas ?
A. Yes - but for now we are keeping our future app ideas unannounced. We are excited about our future apps and will look forward to sharing them with you as they are closer to release.
Q. In terms of Beta- testing your app was this done in a school setting or how did you go about it ??
A. We had our own children use the app as well as children of friends to make sure that it was kid-friendly to use and parent-friendly to manage.
Q. Do you seek advice from outside sources such as teachers when deciding on what type of app would be developed?
A. We started with spelling because parents were often asking Kent about how to help their kids become better spellers. With Spelling Star, parents (and kids) can easily add the words from their actual spelling list, and then they can see at a glance how close the student is to mastery of the list.
Thank you Kevin and Kent for taking some time out to tell AppAble about Top Class Apps.