$59 Tablet Sales Exceed Initial Availability

From Electronic Education Report, Sept. 12, 2014

MobyMax (Potomac, MD) introduced the $59 Moby Tablet this summer and CEO Glynn Willett told EER the company cannot supply enough to meet the market demand.

Willett described the Moby device as a complete education tablet that comes loaded with MobyMax’s online K-8 curriculum for math, reading, writing, language and literature. The tablet features a seven-inch screen and has teacher control features to avoid student distraction.

In addition to the price point, the low bandwidth requirement is what differentiates the Moby Tablet from other tablet solutions in the market, according to Willett.

“So many options require video-and video is a real bandwidth hog-schools get bogged down very quickly,” Willett said. “We created a different pedagogy with a very low bandwidth requirement by using animated GIFs instead of video.”

The graphics interchange format, usually known by its acronym GIF, is gaining in popularity across the Web because of its wide support and portability. The format supports up to eight bits per pixel and is best suited for simple images like graphics and logos.

The online curriculum included with Moby Tablet can be accessed by any device that has a browser. MobyMax introduced the curriculum three years ago and now has 5 million registered student users.

Path to Curriculum Provider

Willett began his work in educational software 10 years ago in the area that evolved to open educational resources. Dissatisfied with the level of response to those efforts, Willett sold the underlying technology to Curriki and began working in online tutoring. Willett began helping publishers add tutoring options to their sites and saw a new niche to explore in the market.

“Seemingly no one was able to create a good online curriculum that was inexpensive, but we knew we could do that with our development processes,” said Willett. “That’s why we jumped into the field and it’s been a success from day one.”

Content for the MobyMax curriculum was developed in-house. The program starts with student placement developed with an emphasis on being fast and accurate. There is a built-in environment for assessment including a clicker feature in the software.

A free version of MobyMax curriculum is available for students. A teacher license costs $99, which includes unlimited student use and access to additional features, like text-messaging. The company also offers a $599 school license.

Science Coming

Willett said MobyMax curriculum originally was adopted in special education departments, spreading to traditional classrooms for supplemental and then core use. While the uptake largely has been grassroots going from teachers to schools, Willett thinks that model might change later this year when MobyMax introduces science curriculum.

The new science curriculum has been built expressly for tablets with a touch format, although it works on any device. Learning is intended to be self-paced and deductive, emphasizing skills like reasoning, analyzing and explaining, Willett said.

“With the release of our science, we will have a product that is so revolutionary and so exciting that a top-down approach-for example, going through state review boards-will open a whole new door for us,” he said.•