Irish start-up takes Shakespeare to the digital age

31 Jan 2012

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t” – Targeted at students and educators, Hamlet is the latest educational app created by Irish start-up MindConnex Learning. The aim is to make studying William Shakespeare plays such as ‘Hamlet’ more interactive and fun via such apps, which also feature innovations such as animated and voiced performances and character relationship maps.

Dublin-based MindConnex Learning has launched the Hamlet app as the fourth title in its ‘Shakespeare in Bits’ series. It already launched educational apps for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2011 and for Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet in 2010.

The apps are available online via a school subscription on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, PC and Mac.  

Speaking today, Michael Cordner, CEO of MindConnex Learning, said the Hamlet app aims to enable students to read and understand the text from the English poet and playwright in bite-sized ‘mini-lessons’ or bits. Each of the apps include the original unabridged texts of the Shakespearean plays, plus they also feature fully animated and voiced performances.

Hamlet app

Ophelia in an exchange with Laertes in the play Hamlet, as depicted in the new Hamlet app created by Irish start-up MindConnex Learning

Another innovative feature is that the apps also allow for in-line translations so students can decipher the modern meaning of archaic words. And there’s also an interactive cast browser, plus family tree maps, which should come in handy when trying to figure out the complexities of Prince Hamlet’s familial relations!

Cordner said today that, despite being an early-stage company, MindConnex Learning has already signed up 90 schools to Shakespeare in Bits in the past three months.

“Our aim is to make Shakespeare a little more accessible to a generation of students who are comfortable learning in a digital medium.”

He said that Shakespeare in Bits allows students to engage with the works of Shakespeare and understand the nuances and interactions that many struggle to decipher from flat text on a page. “We’re using contemporary technology to bring Shakespeare’s greatest plays to life in the classroom.”

Students can also access the plays online, through the same subscription, from any location, he said.

MindConnex has also just been awarded a Readers’ Choice Award from the US publication eSchool Media.

“We are busily trying to build our presence in the worldwide educational market, while also ramping up production of the rest of the plays in the Shakespeare In Bits series. We have just started work on Julius Caesar, which we hope to launch within a few months,” added Cordner.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic