Since launching in March, we've been super busy here at Thinkio, listening to your feedback, adding features and trying to make Thinkio as awesome as possible for all you teachers out there.
We've recently just gone over 20,000 subscribers, which is absolutely mind-blowing for us in such a short amount of time. So, we just wanted to thank all of you out there that are using Thinkio to share interactive material in your online lessons. We hope you're enjoying the platform and more importantly, that it's making your life easier!
Secondly, I just realised that we've been so busy with our heads down focusing on the app that we haven't even introduced ourselves properly yet! So, it's about time we got to know each other and I let you know a little bit about how Thinkio came to be!
Go on then...tell us your life story if you must :P
So, my name's Dan Tanner and I'm the co-founder here at Thinkio along with our head engineer Tom Nuttall.
My story is, I've been teaching English in Milan since 2015 and I've spent most of that time running around the city fro
m one company to the next giving Business English lessons to folks who were curious to know their present simples from their present perfects.
Business as usual until early 2020 when Covid hit hard and we had our first lockdown here in Italy. As for many people around the world, our working life was turned upside down overnight.
I consider myself to have been extremely lucky at that time, as it took about a week before everyone realised we could do pretty much the same thing online as in person, and so I made my first foray, albeit tentative, into the exciting (and admittedly initially terrifying) world of the digital classroom!
From the very first lesson I realised there was a problem regarding how to share the material with students.
I'd built up a wealth of material over the years, most of it being PDF worksheets and images for flashcards and conversation games etc, and I noticed we were wasting a lot of lesson time while students downloaded material, opened it, all remotely on different devices and with different programs. It was always a major cause of friction and discomfort for both myself and my students, and this was something which previously took as long as handing out paper copies.
Once the students had opened the worksheet, they often didn't know what to do with it. They were all using different PDF readers, and I had no simple way to monitor their progress and check what they were writing (even the best of us are prone to the odd spelling misstake!)
Sometimes I'd send the material before the lesson, so it could be downloaded beforehand, but to my surprise some overly zealous students often started completing it before the start of the lesson (honestly!), not to mention the fact that it's way harder to muster the excitement and motivation a good lead in can inject into the start of a class when the students have already seen the lesson topic and know what the activities will be.
I needed a way to be able to replicate the immediacy and simplicity of handing out paper copies, but in an online class!
I called up my mate and all round computer whizz extraordinaire Tom, back in England, and talked through the problem with him. After a couple of months of trialing, testing and building, Thinkio version 1 was brought screaming into the world!
Thinkio to the rescue!
From my very first lesson using Thinkio, I remember it feeling like a breath of fresh air for me. I felt in control of my lessons again, and my class of 10 students could once again focus their energy entirely on learning.
The most useful feature of Thinkio (at least from my point of view) is the fact that I can convert my old material into interactive digital worksheets that my students can open and work on in an instant, exactly when I need them to.
Secondly, the fact that I can view and mark a student's work in real time (and students can see what I've written) is indispensable for my teaching style.
A tertiary benefit we hadn't actually considered before launching Thinkio, is the sheer amount of paper that is saved every single lesson! I used to accumulate piles of extra copies and just in case activities that overtime were unused, and unfortunately found their way into the recycling bin. But no more! In fact, after a little rough guesstimating, I've actually saved around €200 in paper so far, not to mention the time I'd spend at the copier.
Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the brief history of how Thinkio came to be and, from me, Tom, and the rest of the Thinkio team, we want to say thanks again for using Thinkio. As always, just get in touch if you have any comments/questions (or just want to say hi!) and we can't wait to share all of the really cool features we've got in the pipeline with you really soon!
Until next time. Take it easy and happy teaching!