Start-up signs up North American virtual schools to study Shakespeare

8 May 2012

The 'Romeo and Juliet' app in action

MindConnex Learning, the Dublin-based provider of digital learning solutions for secondary schools, has managed to sign up four large virtual schools across North America to use its Shakespeare in Bits apps.

The company has also come up with Shakespeare in Bits Live, a cloud-based service for educators to give multimedia renditions of William Shakespeare plays to students.

The North American schools that are taking on the app to teach Shakespeare are Julian Charter School in California, Vernon Virtual Education in British Columbia, Virtual High School in Ontario and Rocky View Virtual School in Alberta, Canada.

The idea of the Shakespeare service is to make the studying of plays from the English poet and playwright more fun and interactive.

Students can study four Shakespeare plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. MindConnex is planning to release Julius Caesar later this month.

The apps are available online via a school subscription on iPad, iPhone, PCs and Macs.

MindConnex said today it has now gleaned 40,000 users of the service.

Christy Hartman, English Department co-chair with Julian Charter School, said that traditionally Shakespeare has been a tough sell in a virtual environment.

“I think this will change with innovative solutions like Shakespeare in Bits,” she said.

Each of the apps features bite-sized ‘mini-lessons’ or bits of the Shakespeare plays. The apps also have the original unabridged texts of the Shakespearean plays, plus they also feature animated and voiced performances.

Students can decipher the modern meaning of archaic words and nuances from the English Renaissance, via the in-line translation technology that’s embedded in the apps.

MindConnex recently won a Nokia Digital Media Award for Best in e-Learning for Shakespeare in Bits.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic