Post by Roger Steinberg, Director of Product Management
These are exciting times to be in the business of technology and education. The growth of extended learning opportunities is so rapid as to be almost dizzying. It seems that not just yesterday, we at Kurzweil Educational Systems introduced Kurzweil 3000 Windows Version 11 taking our first foray into Web Licensing and a shift towards web-based delivery models. Here we are, just a few short years later, finding ourselves with Kurzweil 3000 Macintosh Version 5 and Windows Version 13 Web Licenses combined with firefly, our web-based reader available from any Internet browser, and now we are adding a firefly iPad application to further make text available to students anytime, anywhere. So much is taking place; one cannot help but wonder, “What’s next?”
As Director of Product Management, I seldom find myself lacking for ideas about what’s next, but rather trying to appropriately prioritize the feature or function that will deliver the most value to our most important customer – the learner. For it is the learner that is at the heart of each development decision made at Kurzweil Educational Systems, with the addition of an iPad application to further access to reading material on a popular, engaging, mobile device; we sincerely believe we’ve made the right decision. However, that does not imply that we are done, as our work never ends.
To me, one of the most stimulating aspects of our Kurzweil 3000-firefly combination is the fact that all are rooted in the same technological ecosystem. What this means is that we can now begin to develop towards the delivery of key usage metrics across all interfaces, which will allow educators working with the students who use these tools to better adjust, modify, or accommodate for learning differences on the fly! These lead directly back to supporting our most important customer – the learner.
I am fond of this quote from an old football coach, it sort of keeps things in perspective when working with technology in education, “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re almost there!”*. To me, this Yogi Berra-ish, circular logic almost sums up product development in the ever evolving times we find ourselves living. The challenge is ever present.
I hope that everyone finds our new firefly iPad application as exciting a step forward as we do and I encourage you to keep your ideas for improvement coming.
*Ron Zook, ex-Football Coach, University of Florida, circa 2003