Keys-by-TEARN mobile platform
Diary of a passionate, tech Dad
from TEARN i.e. teach to learn

Showing posts with label SAT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SAT. Show all posts

May 22, 2011

First Release for Birds, Bugs, Dinosaurs, and Fruits - from KidBook by TEARN

The above four titles have been vetted by most of the main appstores. Tap on the icons below for links to those stores. Look for the remaining apps in the weeks to come.

A special thanks to those stores that cooperated with the synchronized release on so many mobile platforms - another first in the mobile industry.

May 16, 2011

KidBook by TEARN

Keys by TEARN has become the leading publisher with over two million downloads in the teen to adult edutainment segment. KidBook by TEARN targets the K-6 segment among mobile apps. How will we dominate this new segment?

About Keys by TEARN

Among teens, high-schoolers, and adults - we saw a wide niche for learning complex subjects that was under-served. Trivial metaphors, such as flash cards, fail to adequately address subjects such as the 3,500 words of our biology series; 5,000 SAT vocabulary words; and hundreds of spices or cocktail recipes.

Over two million users have downloaded Keys by TEARN - providing testimonial to our leadership of this segment.

Extending Learning to Kids

For K-6 (i.e. kindergarden through six grade,) we've streamlined the interface with more graphics and fewer words - removing features such as customization and sharing. The unique, robust, animated publishing interface that allows users to intuitively select terms, swipe to turn pages, and navigate among tasks is easy to use for both kids and adults.

Most importantly, we've created unique content to match K-6 needs with suitable clues to match their level of learning.

Although the K-6 segment has a lot of competitors, we find that most lack depth and detailing. The KidBook focus to simplify each subject has allowed the original, detailed design of our core learn, watch, spin, match, and guess tasks to shine through - amplifying the hi-res images, unique animations, layouts, and depth of levels for every app. A single KidBook task can compete with a full app from others - with our hundreds of levels instead of three; unique, cross-platform animations rather than the simple animations supplied by the software platform; and dozens of the best-of-the-best, evergreen images instead of the one cartoon on a flash card. BTW, the images are awesome.

Every app is still equivalent in value to 150+ page books, but delivers far more interaction in support of learning - an incredible value for K-6 kids.

KidBook Release Schedule

In the coming week, we are coordinating with the best of the mobile stores to vet and release KidBook by TEARN. Every app will be an affordable 99 cents.

For a review copy by qualified bloggers or editors, plase send email to me.

Thanks for your continuing support of our learning initiative.

Apr 15, 2011

Save a Tree Using Mobile Apps

TEARN media has been compiling more anthologies like the 5,000 word SAT/GRE prep series and 5,000 term Biology series. This post attempts to convert these collections into paper equivalents - just for fun!

How Many Pages in an App?

An app is not the same as a book, magazine, or webpage. An app is hundreds of pages, and the content of each page can be video, interactive games, or 3D images that auto-scroll. (How else can we fit this great information on a small phone;-) We guesstimate that each typical app has 250 to 500 3D-type pages. A collection of 10 apps can easily match the contents of an encyclopedia-level effort which has multiple 500-page+ volumes.

What's A Book Weigh?

A quick search of Amazon shows that a typical, full-sized book of 500 pages weighs over 2 pounds - 2.5 with a hardcover. A collection of 10 apps would have 5,000 3D pages, save 3,000+ sheets of copy paper. According to, an app collection when presented as book equivalent would use a little more than one third of a tree.

By the way, these anthologies can easily cost $100 to $200 per set.

Isn't it amazing that 12 pounds of anthology equivalent fits on a mobile device that weighs 5 ounces?

Why Replace Books with Apps?

Each collection presents the best-of-the-best, evergreen information about each subject - as photos, links to articles, and videos. Can any book match the comprehensive nature of our crowd-sourced collections?

Let's summarize weight, value, and green impact. By adopting a collection of mobile apps, each app:

  • weighs over ten pounds less
  • costs $100 less to buy -- 80% of which is wasted on trees, transport petroleum, and chemicals for printing
  • is more convenient to use since it fits in your phone
  • saves 1/3rd of a tree

  • Thus, every download that displaces an anthology saves the earth over $80. Is that your personal giving to our green earth? FYI.

    Feb 14, 2011

    English Grammar by Keys

    Tap to explore this innovative set of apps to learn the rules of English Writing and English Grammar.

    Is this our best effort for language learning?

    Jan 8, 2011

    Rhymes - the Holistic System for Learning Using Phonics and Rhythm

    This new series of five apps supplies over 500 words. The goal is two fold: 1) to help adults learn English as a second language, and 2) for children to remember simple words.

    Explicit Versus Holistic Learning

    Modern education in the United States has moved toward explicit instructions for every step of learning. This makes no sense - as evidenced by the higher costs for education and lower achievements when compared to world standards over the past 40 years. The public school goal of learning 10 to 20 words in six weeks of elementary school is just one symptom of the problem. Explicit instructions complicate without measured benefits to the learner. Have we become so focused on the teaching metrics - at the huge cost to true learning?
    • Explicit instructions require users to read complex rules and memorize them. If you're still learning the words, isn't this an example of the recursion problem?
    • English rules are full of exceptions to the exceptions. Why do kids feel dumb at such an early age?
    The holistic approach emphasizes the natural ability of human minds to identify patterns, create implicit rules, and remember hundreds of words - without reading and memorizing the rules. Remember that children can pronounce and memorize 500 Pokemon names - even when most of the words are multi-syllabic. This applies to both children and learning a second language as an adult.

    The positive attitude toward learning becomes a life-time goal.

    Rhyming Goals

    The Rhymes Apps has been designed to aid spelling, pronunciation, and memorization of basic words.
    • The core of the English language is 5 vowels: a, e, i, o, u.
    • Each vowel has a long and short sound.
    • Hundreds of exceptions complicate learning.
    Our holistic approach groups words by vowel and rhyme. We depend on users recognizing one or two words in a group to naturally learn the spelling, pronunciation, and exception handling for each list of words. Thus, users learn without memorizing hundreds of explicit rules.

    I'm always amazed that children can remember the lyrics of a song, so easily. It is our belief that the rhymes aid memorization.

    Instructions for Learners

    Students should be shown the following aspects of using Keys:
    • Tapping a button to select an activity.
    • Tapping the left flow-selector (ie green arrow) to select words.
    • Flipping the page using sideways flicks.
    For explicit instructions to these intuitive steps, tap here. ;-)

    Try the apps. Enjoy!

    Here is our collection of the English series:

    One Million Downloads

    PS: It's official. This week, we broke over one million downloads. We expect to gain the second million in Q1. Thank you.

    Almost 50,000 friends read this blog each month. Visitors arrive via the mobile apps, Facebook, Twitter, and RSS subscriptions. Share with your friends and post at your favorite social network. Thanks in advance.

    Aug 31, 2010

    #1 Android apps for SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL vocab prep at Appolicious

    Blackberry OS6 Review
    RT @bbgeeks Learn and have fun on your BlackBerry with Keys | BB Geeks

    May 31, 2010

    A New Goal - 5,000 SAT, GRE Words

    Our team has compiled 10,000 words, and reduced/enhanced the list to 5,000 SAT-level words for our forthcoming, four-book SAT-prep series. Here is a chronicle of our plans and progress.

    Current Art

    The current art is expensive and ineffective.
    • Paper costs restrict products to small decks of 300 cards.
    • The economics of an 1,000-word deck would cost more than what consumers are willing to pay.
    • Shifting through 300 of the strangest words helps little with self-confidence, or teaching the scope of words required to do well on the SAT or other exams. Are these lists designed as a scare tactic to sell tutoring services?
    • Flash cards offer minimal kinesthetic learning and fail to engage for the time required to master the vocabulary.
    • Online flash cards often copy the same low goal, which makes no sense.
    Paper flash cards will follow the rest of publishing industry. No publisher should kill trees and suck scarce energy to transport, cut, print, package paper products - while minimally helping learners. For best ecological outcome, publishers should cease the wasteful practice, now. Sorry to be so harsh, but that's the environmental reality ;-) But we digress.

    5,000 is the Right Goal

    Although the goal to learn 5,000 words seems daunting, the reality is that learners absorb like a sponge, if the right motivators aid and accelerate the process.

    Remember that kids can remember over 1,000 Pokeman characters - each with multi-syllabic names.

    Can we redirect that gaming energy to learning?

    Should 300 or 500 words remain as the implicit goal for a learner?

    Web Chaos

    Conversely, the web offers 300,000-word dictionaries, 4-million-page wiki's, and 50,000 SAT words - free. Many free lists are plumped with conjugated and modified forms - packaging lists as ten times bigger than a useful list. Although modified forms frequently appear on tests, balancing the frequency of individual listings eliminates clutter.

    Too much content overwhelms and kills the motivation to set a reasonable goal and learn.

    Is there a solution that balances learning needs and uncontrolled content?

    The SAT Challenge

    At MIT, we eliminated grades. We also tried at Stanford. Unfortunately, test scores still control the fate of learners. How do we help learners remember?
    • We compiled 1,000 unique words from 12 years of SAT tests. That becomes our Hot List. One high-frequency list does not constitute a complete answer, since the majority of words change each year.
    • The pattern of words chosen tends toward longer words with 8 or more letters; conjugated forms or words with suffixes and prefixes; and subtle meanings that test the comprehension of the learner.
    • Teachers want learners to seek clues that direct them to the right answer. Thus, combination words test their cognitive abilities.
    5,000 words qualify in length and complexity to match the possible universe of words that can be selected.

    Does the 300-word flash deck from the paper-legacy seem useless and pointless?

    The Keys Solution

    Throwing 5,000 words at a learner is like asking them to shuffle 100 decks of playing cards. It creates a mess.

    Here is our proposed solution.
    • 10,000 words were reduced to 5,000 by eliminating duplicates; reducing duplicated forms, compound words that bulk but don't show on tests, and the surprising number of words designed to push social points of views.
    • The afore mentioned hot-list covers 1,100 words. This helps learners see high-frequency words and the level of words selected for SAT tests. Unlike flash cards, our purpose is not to discourage with 300 tough words, but to encourage with realistic examples.
    • Our starter-kit of over 900 words aims to build confidence and basic skills among elementary and middle school learners. The words average only 5 letters each, but many have been on past tests and provide the base for conjugated and modified forms.
    • Two lists of 1,500 each cover SAT-likely words that average 9 letters per word. Level 1 is simpler than level 2 with shorter words. These target high school crammers.
    • The words are organized into chapters by alphabet, presenting 50 to 100 words per chapter - less in the starter kit and hot list. The alternative to group words by subject does not scale. Creating thousands of mnemonics shifts the problem from remembering words to mnemonics, which makes no sense. Knowing the first letter of the answer provides a new, intuitive clue.
    • The words are further grouped by use as an adjective, noun, or verb.
    • Words frequently have multiple meanings. Our purpose is not to produce a dictionary, which is already easily accessible on any cell phone via search. We will display one use per entry.
    • Remember that the photo-search features of the Keys platform naturally shows the richness of each word - as provided by almost intelligent search robots such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
    When tested, the user quickly learns to differentiate descriptive, object, and active forms - and selects from among 15 (for starter-kit) to 30 choices (for SAT-level) while seeking the answer. Thus, we challenge more than past processes - of selecting from among 10 choices - or four possibilities on a multiple choice question.

    Making the Right Choice

    A package with 300 terms is cheaper, sells the dream of an easy answer, and gets the parents to buy. But, I asked myself, "would I want 300 words that make me lose confidence, feel stupid, and loose sleep trying to memorize - only to gain 1 to 2 words on the SAT?"

    The alternative is to review far more base words, see a few examples of over 100 conjugated or modified forms, and truly understand the language pattern. Most words are familiar - thus building confidence.

    Rather than targeting a few words, shouldn't the goal be 50 or more correct answers?

    Adults fear a number like 5,000. There is nothing to fear when setting learning goals.


    The past art has been pure marketing, controlled by the cost of paper. There is no limit to what a learner can absorb. With a little help, every learner can master 5,000 words and build the rich foundation for full compression of the rich English language.

    Is this a learning challenge just for kids and teens?

    Or adults as well?


    Learn more about the Grammar, SAT Basic, SAT Hot, GRE Prep, and GRE Advanced collections of apps.
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