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Today, digital course creator BenchPrep announced its new iPad app, which launches with sync functions.
The new feature allows students to access a project across its iPhone, Android, iPad and web apps; they’d be able to keep changes synced across multiple devices and platforms.
A student’s schedule is haphazard, and schoolwork is often interrupted. With this update, students using BenchPrep have the freedom to download an activity to a mobile device, work on it offline and have their work sync up after connecting said device to the Internet. Imagine, for example, a student taking a practice test on the web is five minutes late for class. He can grab his iPad, finish the studying on the bus and have his content ready to go on his Web app when he gets home.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this ‘anywhere, anytime’ form of education is very important,” co-founder and chief executive Ashish Rangenkar told VentureBeat. “Look at students’ lifestyles. They live anywhere, anytime.”
BenchPrep textbooks go beyond the traditional or even interactive textbook model. They are molded into practice tests, bookmarks, vocabulary games, progress analysis, chat functions within its network and more. The sync function enhances the apps’ ability to help you retain knowledge.
“The inspiration came from Evernote,” said Rangenkar. “You should never need to think about where you left the note, where you took the test. It should just be there.”
BenchPrep, formerly Watermelon Express, is backed by LightBank, the fund created by Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell.
Watermelon Express also created apps for learning specific subjects. After changing names, however, BenchPrep focused on innovating a whole new studying experience. In that pivot, the startup gained new competitors, including Inkling and Kno.
Inkling and Kno create interactive textbooks for the iPad. On these offerings students can check out 3D models of molecules, listen to compositions while reading about them and even explore famous monuments for architecture classes.
Rangenkar admitted that he sees these companies as competitors but says BenchPrep’s content is “way beyond textbooks.”
“We are trying to not create a book experience. The book experience is very linear,” said Rangenkar. “We break down a book and create a course.”
Despite being a small offering on its own, BenchPrep can be used in conjunction with courses from partner publishers McGraw-Hill and Nova. The material is exactly the same as one would find in hard copies, but it’s licensed to be displayed differently.
The company is currently fleshing out its social functions, allowing students to watch another’s progess when learning the same course. For instance, students preparing for the SATs can compare their study processes to see which is more successful and efficient. Also in the works are SMS quizzes and study groups.
BenchPrep is available on iPhone, Android, iPad, and the web. BenchPrep took full form in January 2011 and currently has 21 available courses. Pricing varies by textbook.